AbstractBiodegradable polymers are versatile polymeric materials that have a high potential in biomedical applications avoiding subsequent surgeries to remove, for example, an implanted device. In the past decade, significant advances have been achieved with poly(lactide acid) (PLA)-based materials, as they can be equipped with an additional functionality, that is, a shape-memory effect (SME). Shape-memory polymers (SMPs) can switch their shape in a predefined manner upon application of a specific external stimulus. Accordingly, SMPs have a high potential for applications ranging from electronic engineering, textiles, aerospace, and energy to biomedical and drug delivery fields based on the perspectives of new capabilities arising with such materials in biomedicine. This study summarizes the progress in SMPs with a particular focus on PLA, illustrates the design of suitable homo- and copolymer structures as well as the link between the (co)polymer structure and switching functionality, and describes recent advantages in the implementation of novel switching phenomena into SMP technology.