Chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) is rapidly becoming the process of choice for planarizing dielectrics in very large scale integrated circuits. In addition, it is being used at an increasing rate in the removal of metals in order to define conducting levels. In the case of dielectric CMP, planarization ability is dictated by the mechanical aspects of polishing such as pad rigidity, polishing pressure and speed of the polishing platen, while inherent removal rate of the dielectric material is generally a function of the polishing chemistry. Polishing rate of both, dielectric and metallic films can be significantly increased by changing the nature of the dispersed abrasive in the slurry and that of the dispersing agent. However, such changes have profound implications to the surface quality, planarity, and cleaning of the polished surface. In addition, the polishing pad plays an important role in manufacturability of metal CMP processes. This work reviews the chemistry of polishing slurries containing silica, ceria and alumina abrasives for dielectric and metal CMP. Also, the contribution of the polishing pad to CMP processes is explained. The need for balancing the chemical and mechanical aspects of polishing in order to achieve overall planarization and pattern definition is demonstrated.