Human milk is needed for optimal growth as it satisfies both the nutritional and biological needs of an infant. The established relationship between breastfeeding and an infant's health is attributable to the nutritional and non-nutritional, functional components of human milk including metabolites such as the lipids, amino acids, biogenic amines and carbohydrates. These components have diverse roles, including protecting the infant against infections and guiding the development of the infant's immature immune system. In this review, we provide an in-depth and updated insight into the immune modulatory and anti-infective role of human milk metabolites and their effects on infant health and development. We also review the literature on potential determinants of the human milk metabolome, including maternal infectious diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus and mastitis.