Transformation of biomass to chemicals and fuels is a long-term goal in both science and industry. However, high cost is one of the major obstacles to the industrialization of this sustainable technology. Thus, developing catalysts with high activity and low-cost is of great importance for biomass conversion. The last two decades have witnessed the increasing achievement of the use of earth-abundant 3d-transition-metals in catalysis due to their low-cost, high efficiency and excellent stability. Here, we aim to review the fast development and recent advances of 3d-metal-based catalysts including Cu, Fe, Co, Ni and Mn in lignocellulosic biomass conversion. Moreover, present research trends and invigorating perspectives on future development are given. This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry.