Diterpene compounds specially macrocyclic ones comprising jatrophane, lathyrane, terracinolide, ingenane, pepluane, paraliane, and segetane skeletons occurring in plants of the Euphorbiaceae family are of considerable interest in the context of natural product drug discovery programs. They possess diverse complex skeletons and a broad spectrum of therapeutically relevant biological activities including anti-inflammatory, anti-chikungunya virus, anti-HIV, cytotoxic, and multidrug resistance-reversing activities as well as curative effects on thrombotic diseases. Among macrocyclic diterpenes of Euphorbia , the discovery of jatrophane and modified jatrophane diterpenes with a wide range of structurally unique polyoxygenated polycyclic derivatives and as a new class of powerful inhibitors of P-glycoprotein has opened new frontiers for research studies on this genus. In this review, an attempt has been made to give in-depth coverage of the articles on the naturally occurring jatrophanes and rearranged jatrophane-type diterpenes isolated from species belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family published from 1984 to March 2019, with emphasis on the biogenesis, isolation methods, structure, biological activity, and structure–activity relationship. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1007/s11101-020-09667-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.