Lead based piezoelectric perovskite materials are well known for their excellent piezoelectric properties, which are extensively used in industrial applications. Though, considering the toxicity of lead and its compounds, there is a general awareness for the development of environmental friendly lead-free materials as evidenced from the legislation passed by the European Union in this effect. The different class of materials is now being considered as potentially attractive alternatives to lead zirconate titanate (PZT) based perovskites for various applications. In this review, we review the progresses made on lead-free piezoelectric materials emphasizing on their synthesis, structure–property correlation, etc. Advancement of the various piezo systems such as bismuth sodium titanate, alkali niobates etc. and non-perovskites for example bismuth layer-structured ferroelectrics has been deliberated. It is found that some lead-free compositions show stable piezoelectric responses though they are not as high as the PZT system. This subject is of current interest to the ceramic researchers worldwide as evidenced from the large number of research publications and has motivated us to come out with a critical overview of the field. This article would drive to the researchers to advance the piezoelectric properties of the non-lead based perovskite compounds to achieve materials at par with the PZT system.