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The electronic structures and magnetic properties of many rare-earth monopnictides are reviewed in this article. Possible candidate materials for spintronics devices from the rare-earth monopnictide family, i.e. high polarization (nominally half-metallic) ferromagnets and antiferromagnets, are identified. We attempt to provide a unified picture of the electronic properties of these strongly correlated systems. The relative merits of several ab initio theoretical methods, useful in the study of the rare-earth monopnictides, are discussed. We present our current understanding of the possible half-metallicity, semiconductor–metal transitions, and magnetic orderings in the rare-earth monopnictides. Finally, we propose some potential strategies to improve the magnetic and electronic properties of these candidate materials for spintronics devices.