The large availability of insertion electrodes capable to exchange substantial quantities of lithium ions with relatively fast kinetics, has promoted the development of various types of rechargeable lithium batteries having different design, size, capacity, power and energy capabilities. All these lithium batteries offer a series of considerable specific advantages, such as high energy density and relatively low cost. However, their widespread utilization is still influenced by the high reactivity of the metal which, from one side assures the high energetic content, from the other induces safety hazards and limited cycleability. Attempts to overcome this shortcoming have resulted in the development of batteries where the lithium metal is most commonly replaced by a carbon electrode. Penalties in energy density in respect to the lithium systems and counterbalanced by an expected safer and longer cycle life from the carbon systems. Although a very recent innovation, the rocking-chair idea has already found enthusiastic support in many research laboratories which are presently involved in its investigation and development. As a result of this, small size, lithium rockingchair batteries or, as otherwise named 'lithium-ion batteries', are currently under development in Japan, USA and Europe. In this review paper we describe the properties of the anode, cathode and electrolyte materials which presently seem to be the most promising for the development of these batteries, and we will attempt to evaluate the impact that the rockingchair concept may ultimately have on the progress of rechargeable lithium battery technology. We will also summarize the status of practical rocking-chair batteries for various emerging applications.