Antibodies represent a highly successful class of molecules that bind a wide-range of targets in therapeutic-, diagnostic- and research-based applications. The antibody repertoire is composed of the building blocks required to develop an effective adaptive immune response against foreign insults. A number of species have developed novel genetic and structural mechanisms from which they derive these antibody repertoires, however, traditionally antibodies are isolated from human, and rodent sources. Due to their high-value therapeutic, diagnostic, biotechnological and research applications, much innovation has resulted in techniques and approaches to isolate novel antibodies. These approaches are bolstered by advances in our understanding of species immune repertoires, next generation sequencing capacity, combinatorial antibody discovery and high-throughput screening. Structural determination of antibodies and antibody-antigen complexes has proven to be pivotal to our current understanding of the immune repertoire for a range of species leading to advances in man-made libraries and fine tuning approaches to develop antibodies from immune-repertoires. Furthermore, the isolation of antibodies directed against antigens of importance in health, disease and developmental processes, has yielded a plethora of structural and functional insights. This review highlights the significant contribution of antibody-based crystallography to our understanding of adaptive immunity and its application to providing critical information on a range of human-health related indications.