Recent advances in the development of quantum dots (QDs) have offered new possibilities for the exploration of sensors, bio imaging, batteries, electrochemical water splitting and optoelectronic applications because of their intriguing optical, electrical, catalytic and electrochemical properties. Among QDs, atomically thin two-dimensional quantum dots (2D QDs) derived from graphene sheets, transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) layers and phosphorene have been of considerable interest for the past few years. There have been several intensive studies of carbon QDs, but TMD QDs and heterostructures based on 2D QDs are rapidly advancing. Herein, the synthesis and properties of 2D QDs, particularly carbon and TMD QDs, are reviewed for the recent progress in their application toward electrochemical water splitting, photocatalytic wastewater treatment, supercapacitors, batteries and photodetectors. Moreover, the assembly of such 2D QDs to achieve industrial-scale production and boost their performance in widespread applications is emphasized.