Sphingoid bases encompass a group of long chain amino alcohols which form the essential structure of sphingolipids. Over the last years, these amphiphilic molecules were moving more and more into the focus of biomedical research due to their role as bioactive molecules. In fact, free sphingoid bases interact with specific receptors and target molecules, and have been associated with numerous biological and physiological processes. In addition, they can modulate the biophysical properties of biological membranes. Several human diseases are related to pathological changes in the structure and metabolism of sphingoid bases. Yet, the mechanisms underlying their biological and pathophysiological actions remain elusive. Within this review, we aimed to summarize the current knowledge on the biochemical and biophysical properties of the most common sphingoid bases and to discuss their importance in health and disease.