Functionalization is an important way to breed new properties and applications for a material. This review presents an overview of the progresses in functionalized hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) nanomaterials. It begins with an introduction of h-BN structural features, physical and chemical properties, followed by an emphasis on the developments of BN functionalization strategies and its emerging properties/applications, and ends with the research perspectives. Different functionalization methods, including physical and chemical routes, are comprehensively described toward fabrication of various BN derivatives, hetero- and porous structures, etc. Novel properties of functionalized BN materials, such as high water solubility, excellent biocompatibility, tunable surface affinities, good processibility, adjustable band gaps, etc., have guaranteed wide applications in biomedical, electronic, composite, environmental and "green" energy-related fields.