Graphene's unique thermal, electric and mechanical properties originate from its structure, including being single-atom thick, two-dimensional and extensively conjugated. These structural elements endow graphene with advantageous thermal, electric and mechanical properties. However, the application of graphene is challenged by issues of production, storage and processing. Therefore, the stabilization and modification of graphene have attracted extensive interest. In this review we summarize the strategies for chemical modification of graphene, the influence of modification and the applications in various areas. Generally speaking, chemical modification can be achieved via either covalent or non-covalent interactions. Covalent modifications often destroy some of the graphene conjugation system, resulting in compromising some of its properties. Therefore, in this review we focus mainly on the non-covalent modification methodologies, e.g. π–π stacking interactions and van der Waals force, because the non-covalent modifications are believed to preserve the natural structure and properties. We also discuss the challenges associated with the production, processing and performance enhancement. Future perspectives for production of graphene in large size with fewer defects and under milder conditions are discussed along with the manipulation of graphene's electric, mechanical and other properties.