The lamellarins form a group of more than 30 polyaromatic pyrrole alkaloids, isolated from diverse marine organisms, mainly but not exclusively ascidians and sponges. These molecules fall in three structural groups, with the central pyrrole ring fused or unfused (lamellarins O-R) to adjacent aromatic rings and with the quinoline moiety containing a 5, 6-single - as in lamellarins I-L - or a double bond, as it is the case for lamellarins D and M which are both potent cytotoxic agents. The family also includes sulphated members, such as the integrase inhibitor lamellarin a 20- sulfate. This review presents the origin and structure of the lamellarins and summarizes the various chemical pathways which have been proposed to synthesize all lamellarins and different structurally related marine pyrrole alkaloids, including ningalins, storniamides and lukianols. The mechanisms of actions of these marine products are also discussed. Inhibition of HIV-1 integrase by lamellarin α 20-sulfate and human topoisomerase I by lamellarin D and Molluscum contagiosum virus topoisomerase by lamellarin H, along with other effects on nuclear proteins, provide an experimental basis indicating that DNA manipulating enzymes are important targets for the lamellarins. Some of these marine compounds exhibit cytotoxic activities against tumor cells in vitro and are insensitive to Pgp-mediated drug efflux. The structure-activity relationships are discussed. Other compounds in the series, without being strongly cytotoxic, can reverse the multidrug resistance phenotype and thus may be useful to promote the therapeutic activity of conventional cytotoxic drugs toward chemoresistant tumors. A complete description of the chemistry and pharmacological profiles of the lamellarins is presented here to shed light on this undervalued family of marine alkaloids.