Introduction Biomarkers can be useful for identifying or ruling out sepsis, identifying patients who may benefit from specific therapies or assessing the response to therapy. Methods We used an electronic search of the PubMed database using the key words "sepsis" and "biomarker" to identify clinical and experimental studies which evaluated a biomarker in sepsis. Results The search retrieved 3370 references covering 178 different biomarkers. Conclusions Many biomarkers have been evaluated for use in sepsis. Most of the biomarkers had been tested clinically, primarily as prognostic markers in sepsis; relatively few have been used for diagnosis. None has sufficient specificity or sensitivity to be routinely employed in clinical practice. PCT and CRP have been most widely used, but even these have limited ability to distinguish sepsis from other inflammatory conditions or to predict outcome.