An increasing number of studies show the importance of chemical interactions in the aquatic environment. Our understanding of the role of chemical cues and signals in larger crustaceans has advanced in the last decades. However, for copepods, the most abundant metazoan zooplankton and essential for the functioning of the marine food web, much is still unknown. We synthesize current knowledge about chemical ecology of copepods including foraging, survival and reproduction. We also compile information on the sensory apparatus and new analytical approaches that may facilitate the identification of signal molecules. The review illustrates the importance of chemical interactions in many aspects of copepod ecology and identifies gaps in our knowledge, such as the lack of identified infochemicals and electrophysiological studies to confirm the function of sensory structures. We suggest approaches that are likely to further our understanding of the role of chemical interactions in the pelagic ecosystem.