Alginate is a naturally occurring acidic linear polysaccharide obtained from marine brown seaweed. Low molecular weight structurally diverse derivatives and oligosaccharides derived from alginate have shown various tremendous biological and pharmacological activities. It has been demonstrated that immuno-inflammation is involved in many prevalent human diseases, such as cancer, severe infection and neurodegeneration. Given the activities of marine natural products in the regulation of immune responses, increasing efforts are being made toward the development of lowmolecular- weight natural compounds that aid in the prevention and treatment of immune- and inflammatory-related diseases. In this review, we describe the development of chemical modification and molecular depolymerization methods that modify the physicochemical and biological characteristics of alginate. Additionally, current progress in research on immuno-inflammatory, anti-neurodegenerative and anti-tumor activities of alginate derivatives is highlighted.