The traditional methods to avoid the formation of deposits on heat transfer surfaces are chemical additives, mechanical cleaning devices or modified plant operation. All three have problems with respect to environmental and process compatibility, excessive costs or fluid-specific performance. It would be much more desirable if surfaces could be developed which have an inherently lower stickability for deposits than standard heat exchanger materials. For some time it has been known that materials with low surface energy, such as PTFE, provide less adhesion to other solid substances. However, the low thermal conductivity and/or mechanical strength of such materials and coatings have almost completely inhibited their technical realisation. Only recently, modern surface treatment methods have shown the potential for technically viable low-fouling heat transfer surfaces. If such surfaces could be manufactured industrially at a competitive cost, it would surely revolutionise the way heat exchangers are designed and operated. The present paper reviews the mechanisms of adhesion, the available literature about surface effects on deposit formation, as well as the technologies available to produce low-fouling surfaces.