This report reviews aspects of production, use, environmental exposure and biological effects of ethylene glycol, two isomers of propylene glycol (1,2- and 1,3-propanediol) and four isomers of butylene glycol (1,3-, 1,4-, 2,3-, and 1,2- butanediol). Annual production of ethylene glycol is about 3.7 billion pounds for use primarily in antifreeze and polyester fiber. About 0.5 billion pounds of 1,2-propanediol are produced per year for use in polyester resins, food, pharmaceuticals, and cellophane. Annual domestic demand for 1,4-butanediol is about 0.2 billion pounds for use in the production of tetra-hydrofuran and acetylenic chemicals. The other title glycols are of less importance commercially. The major source of environmental contamination by ethylene glycol and 1,2-propanediol is likely from the disposal of spent antifreeze and de-icing fluids. However, limited monitoring data make it difficult to adequately assess environmental exposure to the glycols. The glycols are capable of being degraded by a variety of acclimated and unacclimated soil, water, and sewage microorganisms. In humans, ethylene glycol intoxication, usually as a result of accidental ingestion of antifreeze, may result in nausea, hypertension, tachycardia, cardiopulmonary failure, renal impairment, coma and death. 1,2-Propanediol is a GRAS food additive of low toxicity. 1,3-Butanediol has been studied as a source of dietary energy. Few studies are available on 1,2-, 2,3- and 1,4-butanediol or on 1,3-propanediol.