Quinones are ubiquitous in nature and constitute an important class of naturally occurring compounds found in plants, fungi and bacteria. Human exposure to quinones therefore occurs via the diet, but also clinically or via airborne pollutants. For example, the quinones of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are prevalent as environmental contaminants and provide a major source of current human exposure to quinones. The inevitable human exposure to quinones, and the inherent reactivity of quinones, has stimulated substantial research on the chemistry and toxicology of these compounds. From a toxicological perspective, quinones possess two principal chemical properties that confer their reactivity in biological systems. Quinones are oxidants and electrophiles, and the relative contribution of these properties to quinone toxicity is influenced by chemical structure, in particular substituent effects. Modification to the quinone nucleus also influences quinone metabolism. This review will therefore focus on the differences in structure and metabolism of quinones, and how such differences influence quinone toxicology. Specific examples will be discussed to illustrate the diverse manner by which quinones interact with biological systems to initiate and propagate a toxic response.