BackgroundCircular RNAs (circRNAs) are a new class of endogenous non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) widely expressed in eukaryotic cells. Mounting evidence has highlighted circRNAs as critical regulators of various tumours. More importantly, circRNAs have been revealed to recruit and reprogram key components involved in the tumour microenvironment (TME), and mediate various signaling pathways, thus affecting tumourigenesis, angiogenesis, immune response, and metastatic progression.Main body of the abstractIn this review, we briefly introduce the biogenesis, characteristics and classification of circRNAs, and describe various mechanistic models of circRNAs. Further, we provide the first systematic overview of the interplay between circRNAs and cellular/non-cellular counterparts of the TME and highlight the potential of circRNAs as prospective biomarkers or targets in cancer clinics. Finally, we discuss the biological mechanisms through which the circRNAs drive development of resistance, revealing the mystery of circRNAs in drug resistance of tumours.Short conclusionDeep understanding the emerging role of circRNAs and their involvements in the TME may provide potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets for cancer patients. The combined targeting of circRNAs and co-activated components in the TME may achieve higher therapeutic efficiency and become a new mode of tumour therapy in the future.