Ubiquitination is a versatile posttranslational modification that elicits signaling roles to impact on various cellular processes and disease states. The versatility is a result of the complexity of ubiquitin conjugates, ranging from a single ubiquitin monomer to polymers with different length and linkage types. Recent studies have revealed the abundant existence of branched ubiquitin chains in which one ubiquitin molecule is connected to two or more ubiquitin moieties in the same ubiquitin polymer. Compared to the homotypic ubiquitin chain, the branched chain is recognized or processed differently by readers and erasers of the ubiquitin system, respectively, resulting in a qualitative or quantitative alteration of the functional output. Furthermore, certain types of branched ubiquitination are induced by cellular stresses, implicating their important physiological role in stress adaption. In addition, the current chemical methodologies of solid phase peptide synthesis and expanding genetic code approach have been developed to synthesize different architectures of branched ubiquitin chains. The synthesized branched ubiquitin chains have shown their significance in understanding the topologies and binding partners of the branched chains. Here, we discuss the recent progresses on the detection, functional characterization and synthesis of branched ubiquitin chains as well as the future perspectives of this emerging field.