This critical review describes recent developments in the field of supramolecular chemistry of terpyridine–metal complexes. The synthesis and characteristics of single as well as multiple homo- and heterometallic complexes is discussed. Furthermore, complexes containing fullerenes, biological building blocks, extended aggregates of different architectures as well as rings are presented. A special emphasis is placed upon the properties (e.g. redox properties, luminescence etc.) of functional systems. Potential applications in optical nano-devices, molecular storage units, molecular switches and solar cells are discussed.