Advanced finite element techniques for the simulation of materials behavior under mechanical loading are reviewed. Advantages, limitations and perspectives of different approaches are analyzed for the simulation of deformation, damage and fracture of materials taking into account their micro- and mesostructure. Devlopment of simulation methods fordifferent aspects of materials behavior (such as the unit cell approach, real structure simulation, cohesive zone model, etc) is described includng the simple versions of the methods as well as the advanced, highly efficient models. Possibilities of using the finite element method in the development of new materials are analyzed. This review article contains 131 references.