Anisotropic nano-, micro- and mesoscale natural and synthetic structures possess a unique combination of physical properties due to a complex balance of steric factors and intermolecular interactions at multiple length scales. Utilizing such structures as templates for conformal replication allows reproduction of their unique shapes and properties into different synthetic materials. This review is devoted to the recent progress made on anisotropic microstructures suitable as sacrificial templates as well as techniques currently used for their precise replication into various materials. We present an overview of synthetic strategies used for the replication of both dispersed particulates and continuous templates with a number of recent examples of anisotropic organic and inorganic replicas presented. Strategies for generating adequate robust replicas and their expected assembling behavior are also briefly discussed. © 2010 The Royal Society of Chemistry.