Abstract: The spontaneous magnetoelastic effects in Gd compounds are reviewed showing that the strain dependence of the magnetic exchange interactions leads to significant effects. These effects are equal in magnitude to well established single ion contributions in other rare earth compounds with non vanishing orbital momentum (coming from the strain dependence of the crystal field). In some cases the exchange contribution can produce giant magnetostriction (GMS) or induce structural pHäse transitions. In order to extract the influence of the Gd-Gd exchange interactions, we consider only Gd compounds with partner elements showing no or only weak induced magnetic moments. The current status of the theory is presented and compared to measurements performed by temperature dependent x-ray diffraction and results of dilatometric measurements.