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The aim of this review is to give updated results on the chemistry and biological activities of Polygalaceae saponins from literature data and from authors' studies. During the last decade the improvement of isolation and structure elucidation techniques allowed the characterization of about 150 complex triterpene saponins from Polygalaceae having mainly preatroxigenin, medicagenic acid and presenegenin as aglycone. The sequence 3-O-(β-d-glucopyranosyl)-presenegenin 28-[O-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1→2)-β-d-fucopyranosyl] ester with additional acylations with p-methoxy-, di- or trimethoxycinnamoyl groups at the position 4 of the fucopyranosyl moiety often encountered in the genera Polygala, Muraltia, Carpolobia, and Securidaca may represent a chemotaxonomic marker for the Polygalaceae family. The biological and pharmacological properties of some Polygalaceae species such as in vitro activity on the central nervous system, the hypoglycemic, cytotoxic, immunomodulatory activities and in vivo immunoadjuvant properties are highlighted.