An overview is given of the Fischer–Tropsch based conversion of carbon containing feed materials (coal, biomass, natural gas and waste) into useful products (fuels and chemicals). A high-level process flow diagram is provided showing the different conversion steps, namely feed preparation, feed-to-syngas conversion, syngas conditioning, Fischer–Tropsch synthesis, syncrude cooling/separation and refining. The composition of Fischer–Tropsch derived syncrude is discussed, while listing syncrude compositions representative of the three major technologies, iron-based low and high temperature Fischer–Tropsch synthesis, as well as cobalt-based low temperature Fischer–Tropsch synthesis. This serves as introduction to the refining of syncrude and the catalysis relevant to Fischer–Tropsch syncrude refining. The need for refining, the difference between syncrude and conventional crude oil and the special requirements for catalysis when dealing with syncrude are highlighted.