Graded magnetic materials represent a promising new avenue in modern material science from both fundamental and application points of view. Over the course of the last few years, remarkable results have been obtained in (epitaxial) heterostructures based on thin alloy films featuring diverse compositional depth profiles. As a result of the precise tailoring of such profiles, the exchange coupling, and the corresponding effective or local Curie temperatures can be controlled over tens of nm with an excellent precision. This topical review article reports the most recent advances in this emerging research field. Several aspects are covered, but the primary focus lies in the study of compositional gradients being transferred into depth dependent magnetic states in ferromagnets, while also reviewing other experimental attempts to create exchange graded films and materials in general. We account for the remarkable progress achieved in each sample and composition geometry by reporting the recent developments and by discussing the research highlights obtained by several groups. Finally, we conclude the review article with an outlook on future challenges in this field.