During diagenesis and conversion of the original lipid fraction of biological systems to petroleum hydrocarbons, the following four basic events needed for paleoreconstruction may be monitored by biological markers: (1) sourcing, (2) maturation, (3) migration and (4) biodegradation. Actual cases of applying biological markers to petroleum exploration problems in different parts of the world are demonstrated. Cretaceous- and Phosphoria-sourced oils in the Wyoming Thrust Belt can be distinguished from one another by high quality source fingerprinting of biomarker terpanes using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Identification of recently discovered biological markers, head-to-head isoprenoids, allows source differentiation between some oils from Sumatra. The degree of crude oil maturation in basins from California, Alaska, Russia, Wyoming and Louisiana can be assessed by specific biomarker ratios (20S/20R sterane epimers). Field evidence from such interpretation is augmented by laboratory pyrolysis of the rock. Extensive migration is documented by biomarkers in several oils. Biological marker results are consistent with the geological setting and add a dimension in assisting the petroleum explorationist towar paleoreconstruction.