An overview of Fischer–Tropsch synthesis is provided to highlight aspects that affect the syncrude composition. The influence of the Fischer–Tropsch catalyst type, synthesis reactor, operating conditions and Fischer–Tropsch catalyst deactivation on syncrude composition are discussed. The relationship between the syncrude carbon number distribution and the chain growth probability (α-value) is introduced, with reference to the Anderson-Schultz-Flory (ASF) description. Deviations from the ideal ASF carbon number distribution are noted, as well as alternative descriptions, such as the two α-value model. A summary of industrial applications of Fischer–Tropsch synthesis is provided, with a brief outline of the commercial use of iron-based low temperature Fischer–Tropsch (Fe-LTFT), iron-based high temperature Fischer–Tropsch (Fe-HTFT) and cobalt-based low temperature Fischer–Tropsch (Co-LTFT) synthesis.