As the side effects of antibiotics are becoming increasingly prominent and the number of approvals is declining year by year, it is urgent to develop other active substances that are similar in functions and not easy to develop drug resistance. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have broad-spectrum antibacterial activities, thermal stability and unique mechanism of action. They can not only play the role of anti-bacterial infection in vivo and promote apoptosis of cancer cells, but also be used as chemotherapeutic agents against virus and antibacterial materials for hospital settings. In this paper, developments related to antimicrobial mechanisms and activities of antimicrobial peptides against drug-resistant bacteria, anticancer and antiviral infection in the field of medicine are systematically reviewed. The problems of stability, hemolytic and toxicity of antimicrobial peptides are elucidated and the development prospects of AMPs in medicine are provided. Further research on AMPs can be carried out in the following aspects in the future. 1) Antibacterial mechanism in vivo are studied to promote the development and application of antimicrobial peptides；2）Structures of AMPs are optimized by replacing and modifying amino acid residues and hybrid peptides are synthesized to improve their activities, reduce side effects and prevent drug resistance; 3）Application of delivery systems for AMPs or combination of AMPs with green natural extracts is investigated to improve their antibacterial activity and bioavailability.