Many marine bioactive compounds have medicinal and nutritional values. These bioactive compounds have been prepared using solvent-based extraction from marine bio-resources or chemical synthesis, which are costly, inefficient with low yields, and environmentally unfriendly. Recent advances in metabolic engineering allowed to some extent more efficient production of these compounds, showing promises to meet the increasing demand of marine natural bioactive compounds. In this paper, we review the strategies and statuses of metabolic engineering applied to microbial production of marine natural bioactive compounds including terpenoids and their derivatives, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and marine natural drugs, and provide perspectives. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.