Glycan arrays have become a powerful tool for the high-throughput elucidation of interactions of different carbohydrate structures with a wide variety of biological targets, including antibodies, proteins, viruses and cells. This technique is especially suitable for glycomics studies, because arrays present carbohydrate ligands in a manner that mimics interactions at cell-cell interfaces. This review assesses the recent advances involving glycan arrays, including new methods for glycan-array fabrication, new platforms for novel biological information, and new perceptions of glycomics for improving the understanding of disease-related glycobiology. Furthermore, this review attempts to forecast trends in the development of glycan arrays and possible solutions for some remaining challenges to improve this new technology. © 2009 Expert Reviews Ltd.