Microfluidic devices are excellent at downscaling chemical and biochemical reactions and thereby can make reactions faster, better and more efficient. It is therefore understandable that we are seeing these devices being developed and used for many applications and research areas. However, microfluidic devices are more complex than test tubes or microtitre plates and the integration of reagents into them is a real challenge. This review looks at state-of-the-art methods and strategies for integrating various classes of reagents inside microfluidics and similarly surveys how reagents can be released inside microfluidics. The number of methods used for integrating and releasing reagents is surprisingly large and involves reagents in dry and liquid forms, directly-integrated reagents or reagents linked to carriers, as well as active, passive and hybrid release methods. We also made a brief excursion into the field of drug release and delivery. With this review, we hope to provide a large number of examples of integrating and releasing reagents that can be used by developers and users of microfluidics for their specific needs. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2013.