IgE is the antibody isotype found at the lowest concentration in the circulation. However IgE can undeniably play an important role in mediating allergic reactions; best exemplified by the clinical benefits of anti-IgE monoclonal antibody (omalizumab) therapy for some allergic diseases. This review will describe our current understanding of the interactions between IgE and its main receptors FcεRI and CD23 (FcεRII). We will review the known and potential functions of IgE in health and disease: in particular, its detrimental roles in allergic diseases and chronic spontaneous urticaria, and its protective functions in host defense against parasites and venoms. Finally, we will present an overview of the drugs that are in clinical development or have therapeutic potential for IgE-mediated allergic diseases.