RETM5 and RE2TM17 (RE=rare earth, TM=transition metal) permanent magnets are discussed in this review. The scientific and technological considerations which have guided their development are described. Along with a discussion of the various research efforts reported in the literature, they help establish the framework within which most of the work can be integrated and understood. In regard to the RETM5 alloys, the review limits itself to the technologically significant SmCo5 materials; others are discussed minimally, and only to the extent that they contributed to overall magnet development efforts. Likewise, from among the fabrication technologies, the review is limited to those processes which have been demonstrated as capable of producing magnets in bulk useful form. Areas covered in this review include phase diagrams, crystal structures, magnetocrystalline anisotropy, coercivity mechanisms, fabrication technologies, processing‐microstructure‐property interrelationships, and thermal effects related to stability of magnet flux. Directions for future, additional work are discussed briefly as well.