Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius L., is an annual oilseed crop that is cultivated on small plots all over the world. The seed oil content ranges from 20% to 45%; the oil is high in linoleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid that aids in lowering the blood cholesterol level. Thus, safflower has long been used as medical plant in many countries, especially in China and India. However, for industrial purposes, it has long been neglected because of the low seed yield or oil content, until its physical role was revealed. In recent years, research works carried out in many countries mostly focused on improving the seed or oil yield. In this review, after illustrating the fatty acid composition of safflower seed oil as well as the genetic characteristics of safflower and their relationships with agronomic traits, a brief analysis of the current worldwide situation and future prospects of safflower utilization are presented.