Abstract: Chemically derived graphene oxide (GO) is an atomically thin sheet of graphite that has traditionally served as a precursor for graphene, but is increasingly attracting chemists for its own characteristics. It is covalently decorated with oxygen-containing functional groups - either on the basal plane or at the edges - so that it contains a mixture of sp(2)- and sp(3)-hybridized carbon atoms. In particular, manipulation of the size, shape and relative fraction of the sp(2)-hybridized domains of GO by reduction chemistry provides opportunities for tailoring its optoelectronic properties. For example, as-synthesized GO is insulating but controlled deoxidation leads to an electrically and optically active material that is transparent and conducting. Furthermore, in contrast to pure graphene, GO is fluorescent over a broad range of wavelengths, owing to its heterogeneous electronic structure. In this Review, we highlight the recent advances in optical properties of chemically derived GO, as well as new physical and biological applications.