The lithium ion battery is the most promising battery candidate to power battery electric vehicles. For these vehicles to be competitive with those powered by conventional internal combustion engines, significant improvements in battery performance are needed, especially in the energy density and power delivery capabilities. Promising substitutes for graphite as the anode material include silicon, tin, germanium, and various metal oxides that have much higher theoretical storage capacities and operated at slightly higher and safer potentials. In this critical review, metal oxides-based materials for lithium ion battery anodes are reviewed in detail together with the progress which is made in my lab on that topic. Their advantages, disadvantages, and performance in lithium ion batteries are discussed through extensive analysis of the literature, and new trends in materials development are also reviewed. Two important future research directions are proposed and performed in my lab, based on results published in the literature: the development of composite and nanostructured metal oxides to overcome the major challenge posed by the high capacity of metal oxide anodes.