Polysaccharide-degrading microorganisms express a repertoire of hydrolytic enzymes that act in synergy on plant cell wall and other natural polysaccharides to elicit the degradation of often-recalcitrant substrates. These enzymes, particularly those that hydrolyze cellulose and hemicellulose, have a complex molecular architecture comprising discrete modules which are normally joined by relatively unstructured linker sequences. This structure is typically comprised of a catalytic module and one or more carbohydrate binding modules (CBMs) that bind to the polysaccharide. CBMs, by bringing the biocatalyst into intimate and prolonged association with its substrate, allow and promote catalysis. Based on their properties, CBMs are grouped into 43 families that display substantial variation in substrate specificity, along with other properties that make them a gold mine for biotechnologists who seek natural molecular "Velcro" for diverse and unusual applications. In this article, we review recent progress in the field of CBMs and provide an up-to-date summary of the latest developments in CBM applications.