Many organisms from a wide variety of taxa produce amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC), despite the fact that it is inherently unstable and relatively soluble in its pure state. These properties also make it difficult to detect and characterize ACC. Raman spectroscopy is a particularly useful method for investigating ACC because the sample can be examined wet, and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) analysis can provide detailed information on the short-range order. Other methods for characterizing ACC include infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis and differential thermal analysis (TGA and DTA), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and electron and X-ray diffraction. Because of the difficulties involved, we suspect that ACC is far more widely distributed than is presently known, and a comparison of EXAFS spectra shows that different biogenic ACC phases have different short-range order structures. We also suspect that ACC fulfils many different functions, including as a transient precursor phase during the formation of crystalline calcium carbonate.