Forward osmosis (FO) has been extensively investigated and demonstrated its advantages in a range of FO applications over the past decade. However, challenges still remain in terms of the lack of both efficient FO membranes and appropriate draw solutes for practical FO applications. To promote the advancement of FO technology, considerable efforts have been made in exploring novel FO membranes and draw solutes in recent years. This paper will provide a short review on the progress of both FO membranes and draw solutes. First of all, a brief overview on FO principle is given. Then the progress in FO technology related to FO membrane and draw solute is presented with specific examples. Finally, challenges and future directions of FO technology in exploring efficient FO membranes and promising draw solutes are also highlighted. This article may provide new insights into the future development of FO technology and promote practical FO applications.