A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis has been carried out with the goal of understanding the potential benefits and pitfalls of using ionic liquids in the context of the biorefinery. The analysis suggests that ionic liquids are most likely to be employed if no process alternative exists, e.g. if the quality or properties of the materials produced (such as regenerates) is unique. Furthermore, their high dissolution capacities or extraction selectivities may be advantageous, in particular due to the fine tuneability of the properties. As for any other processes, the ionic liquid cost must be outweighed by the overall advantages, e.g. by turning complex waste streams to feeds, reducing the number of processing steps, or providing solutions for (bio-)chemical conversion with high selectivities.