Magnetostrictive alloys have attracted increasing attention in biomedical applications because of the ability to generate reversible deformation in the presence of external magnetic fields. This review focuses on the advances in magnetostrictive alloys and their biomedical applications. The theories of magnetostriction are systematically summarized. The different types of magnetostrictive alloys and their preparation methods are also reviewed in detail. The magnetostrictive strains and phase compositions of typical magnetostrictive alloys, including iron based, rare-earth based and ferrite materials, are presented. Besides, a variety of approaches to preparing rods, blocks and films of magnetostriction materials, as well as the corresponding methods and setups for magnetostriction measurement, are summarized and discussed. Moreover, the interactions between magnetostrictive alloys and cells are analyzed and emphasis is placed on the transduction and transformation process of mechanochemical signals induced by magnetostriction. The latest applications of magnetostrictive alloys in remote microactuators, magnetic field sensors, wireless implantable devices and biodegradable implants are also reviewed. Furthermore, future research directions of magnetostrictive alloys are prospected with focus on their potential applications in remote cell actuation and bone repair.