Since the discovery of photosensitivity in optical fibers there has been great interest in the fabrication of Bragg gratings within the core of a fiber. The ability to inscribe intracore Bragg gratings in these photosensitive fibers has revolutionized the field of telecommunications and optical fiber based sensor technology. Over the last few years, the number of researchers investigating fundamental, as well as application aspects of these gratings has increased dramatically. This article reviews the technology of Bragg gratings in optical fibers. It introduces the phenomenon of photosensitivity in optical fibers, examines the properties of Bragg gratings, and presents some of the important developments in devices and applications. The most common fabrication techniques (interferometric, phase mask, and point by point) are examined in detail with reference to the advantages and the disadvantages in utilizing them for inscribing Bragg gratings. Reflectivity, bandwidth, temperature, and strain sensitivity of the Bragg reflectors are examined and novel and special Bragg grating structures such as chirped gratings, blazed gratings, phase-shifted gratings, and superimposed multiple gratings are discussed. A formalism for calculating the spectral response of Bragg grating structures is described. Finally, devices and applications for telecommunication and fiber-optic sensors are described, and the impact of this technology on the future of the above areas is discussed. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.