Hydrothermal ore deposits are large geochemical anomalies of sulfur and metals in the Earth’s crust that have formed at <1 to ~8 km depth. Sulfide minerals in hydrothermal deposits are the primary economic source of metals used by society, which occur as major, minor and trace elements. Sulfides also play a key role during magmatic crystallization in concentrating metals that subsequently may (or may not) be supplied to hydrothermal fluids. Precipitation of sulfides that themselves may have little economic value, like pyrite, may trigger the deposition of more valuable metals (e.g. Au) by destabilizing the metal-bearing sulfur complexes. We review why, where and how sulfide minerals in hydrothermal systems precipitate.