Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a new class of microporous materials that possess framework flexibility, large surface areas, “tailor-made” framework functionalities, and tunable pore sizes. These features empower MOFs superior performances and broader application spectra than those of zeolites and phosphine-based molecular sieves. In parallel with designing new structures and new chemistry of MOFs, the observation of unique breathing behaviors upon adsorption of gases or solvents stimulates their potential applications as host materials in gas storage for renewable energy. This has attracted intense research energy to understand the causes at the atomic level, using in situ
X-ray diffraction, calorimetry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and molecular dynamics simulations. This article is developed in the following order: first to introduce the definition of MOFs and the observation of their framework flexibility. Second, synthesis routes of MOFs are summarized with the emphasis on the hydrothermal synthesis, owing to the environmental-benign and economically availability of water. Third, MOFs exhibiting breathing behaviors are summarized, followed by rationales from thermodynamic viewpoint. Subsequently, effects of various functionalities on breathing behaviors are appraised, including using post-synthetic modification routes. Finally, possible framework spatial requirements of MOFs for yielding breathing behaviors are highlighted as the design strategies for new syntheses.