Soil water repellency is a worldwide phenomenon, which can occur under various climate background, soil condition and vegetation types. The ecohydrological process can be significantly modified by the water repellent soils and has attracted much attention in the past decades. As a matter of fact, the study of this issue has already became the interdisciplinary subject of the surface science, biology, soil science and physics. The environmental potential of the water repellent soil is now one of the frontiers and perspectives of eco-hydrological research. Due to its complicated spatial and temporal properties, it is very difficult to quantify the ecohydrological effects of soil water repellency. Based on the recent achievements, the historical development of the issue was reviewed briefly. Meanwhile, its physical mechanism, influence factors as well as its potential effects on eco-hydrological processes were discussed. The main aims of the studies on this issue in the future were also pointed out. We hope this overview could promote the development of the study of soil water repellency and provide the scientific basis for government decision in China.