Anhydrobiosis is a phenomenon related to the partial or total desiccation of living organisms, keeping their vital functions after rehydration. The desiccated state in prokaryotes has been widely studied, mainly due to the broad spectrum of the anhydrobiosis applications. In this review, we present the basic theoretical concepts related to anhydrobiosis, focusing on bacterial species. An update about desiccation tolerance in bacteria is given; and the general mechanisms of desiccation tolerance and desiccation damage are described. In addition, we show how the study of anhydrobiosis in prokaryotes has established the theoretical and practical basis for the development of the drying technologies. With regard to the desiccation tolerance in bacteria, although many mechanisms remain undiscovered at the molecular level, important research about the physiology of the anhydrobiotic state and its applications has been performed, and here we provide the most recent information about this subject. On the other hand, the most widely used drying technologies and their particular applications in several fields are described (e.g. medicine, agriculture and food industry). Finally, topics on the stability of desiccated bacterial cells are treated, concluding with the necessity of focusing the research on the mathematical modelling of the desiccated state in bacteria.