Abstract: Cationic antimicrobial peptides are a class of small, positively charged peptides known for their broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. These peptides have also been shown to possess anti-viral and anti-cancer activity and, most recently, the ability to modulate the innate immune response. To date, a large number of antimicrobial peptides have been chemically characterized, however, few high-resolution structures are available. Structure-activity studies of these peptides reveal two main requirements for antimicrobial activity, (1) a cationic charge and (2) an induced amphipathic conformation. In addition to peptide conformation, the role of membrane lipid composition, specifically non-bilayer lipids, on peptide activity will also be discussed.