The study of electronic properties of GaAs/AlGaAs quantum wells (QWs) has traditionally been focused on intrinsic phenomena, in particular the free exciton behaviour. Defects and impurities have often been regarded as less relevant compared to the case of bulk semiconductors. Doping in QWs is important in many applications, however, and recently the knowledge about the structure of shallow donors and acceptors from optical spectroscopy has advanced to a level comparable to the situation in bulk semiconductors. A dramatic difference from the bulk case is the common occurrence of localisation effects due to interface roughness in QW structures. The recombination of bound excitons (BEs) differs drastically from bulk, BE lifetimes decrease with decreasing well thickness Lw, but increase with decreasing barrier thickness Lb (at constant Lw) below Lb=70Å. Exciton capture at impurities is a process which is strongly influenced by the localisation potentials from the interface roughness. The recombination process in doped QWs involves a nonradiative component, for shallow acceptors an excitonic Auger process has been identified. Deep nonradiative defects in the (MBE grown) QW as well as in the barrier material are manifested in measurements of the PL decay time vs temperature. In undoped multiple QWs the decay times vs T are consistent with thermal emission out of the well into the barrier, where nonradiative recombination via deep level defects occur. Nonradiative recombination in the well itself can be studied in electron-irradiated structures. Preliminary data also demonstrate the feasibility of hydrogen passivation of dopants as well as deep levels in the QW structures.