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What Are Macromolecules?

Macromolecules, also termed polymers, are large, complex molecules that are usually formed from the product of smaller molecules called monomers.

To learn about the macromolecules, read this article, and come back afterward.

As you just read, there a 4 major types of macromolecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. We'll review each of them thoroughly.

The Bare Minimum

If you already have a biological background, or do not want to indulge in the details of macromolecule structure and functions, then consider the below information just enough to move on to the next chapter.

Generally, in biology or organic chemistry people talk about 4 general classes of molecules:

  • Nucleic acids - you may be familiar with these. They are the structural components of DNA and RNA

  • Lipids - these are oily and fat molecules (some steroids too). They are present in places like the cell surface or feathers (to make them waterproof), and butter or cheese.

  • Carbohydrates - substances like sugars and starches (bread, pasta)

  • Proteins - these are considered the structural machinery of the body - things like hair and muscles and so on and so forth. Proteins build the majority of cellular structures and perform most life functions (e.g. enzymes, antibodies, and transporters are all proteins). They work in a complicated and coordinated manner to support life and are the target of most medicines today.

This just about covers the main points you need to know. At this point, you are free to skip to the next chapter (DNA & RNA). However, if you would like to learn more about macromolecules, then keep on reading.

Advanced Content

Note: Nucleic acids are not covered in this chapter. Information about them is provided in the next chapter: DNA & RNA


First, you need to get an idea of what carbohydrates are. In order to do that, read this article, and come back afterward.

Now, watch the following video outlining the molecular structure of glucose.

Next, get familiar with the concept of dehydration synthesis (condensation reaction) by watching the following video.

Finally, broaden your knowledge of carbohydrates and the underlying processes by watching the videos below.


Like the other biological macromolecules, lipids play essential roles in the biology of humans and other organisms. To start, read this introductory article about lipids, and come back afterward.

Next, get familiar with the concept of fats, their types, and molecular structures by watching the following two videos.

Finally, conclude with the video below.


Last but definitely not least, we will review the monomers that have perhaps the broadest range of functions - proteins.

To start, read this article, which outlines the main characteristics of proteins, and come back here afterward.

Next, read this article to find out more about the orders of protein structure.


If you made it here, then congratulations! You have successfully completed this section. Move to the next portion of the guide with the arrow buttons below.

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