Currently, biomedical engineering is rapidly expanding, especially in the areas of drug delivery, gene transfer, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. A prerequisite for further development is the design and synthesis of novel multifunctional biomaterials that are biocompatible and biologically active, are biodegradable with a controlled degradation rate, and have tunable mechanical properties. In the past decades, different types of α-amino acid-containing degradable polymers have been actively developed with the aim to obtain biomimicking functional biomaterials. The use of α-amino acids as building units for degradable polymers may offer several advantages: (i) imparting chemical functionality, such as hydroxyl, amine, carboxyl, and thiol groups, which not only results in improved hydrophilicity and possible interactions with proteins and genes, but also facilitates further modification with bioactive molecules (e.g., drugs or biological cues); (ii) possibly improving materials biological properties, including cell-materials interactions (e.g., cell adhesion, migration) and degradability; (iii) enhancing thermal and mechanical properties; and (iv) providing metabolizable building units/blocks. In this paper, recent developments in the field of α-amino acid-containing degradable polymers are reviewed. First, synthetic approaches to prepare α-amino acid-containing degradable polymers will be discussed. Subsequently, the biomedical applications of these polymers in areas such as drug delivery, gene delivery and tissue engineering will be reviewed. Finally, the future perspectives of α-amino acid-containing degradable polymers will be evaluated.