Belemnites are an extinct group of Mesozoic coleoid cephalopods with a fossil record ranging from the early Late Triassic [about 240 million years ago (Mya)] to the Cretaceous/Palaeogene boundary (65 Mya). Belemnites were widely distributed, highly abundant and diverse, and an important component of Mesozoic marine food webs. Their internal shells, specifically their low‐Mg calcite rostra, have been used as palaeoenvironmental carbonate archives for the last 70 years. This is primarily due to the assumption that the rostrum calcite formed in equilibrium with the oxygen isotope composition of ambient sea water. Of prime importance for the reliable interpretation of isotope data derived from these biogenic carbonates is a robust reconstruction of the palaeobiology of their producers. Here we provide a critical assessment of published reconstructions of belemnite soft‐body organization and their lifestyle and habitats. Different lines of evidence, including sedimentological, geochemical, morphological, and biomechanical data, point towards an outer shelf habitat of belemnites, for some taxa also including the littoral area. Belemnite habitat temperatures, oxygen content, salinities, and life span are constrained based on observations of the ecology and life history of modern coleoids. Belemnite habitat depth might have been largely controlled by food and temperature, with a temperature optimum between 10°C and 30°C. The distribution of modern coleoids is for most species restricted to well‐oxygenated water masses and a salinity between 27 and 37 psu. The trophic position of belemnites as both predators and prey is documented by unique fossil finds of stomach contents and soft tissue preservation, such as jaws, hooks, and ink sacs. Belemnites were medium‐sized predators in the epipelagic zone (not deeper than ∼200 m) hunting for crustaceans, other cephalopods, and fishes. Taxa with elongated rostra probably were fast and highly manoeuvrable swimmers. Forms with conical rostra represent slow but highly manoeuvrable swimmers, and forms with depressed rostra likely had a bottom‐related life habit. Predators of adult belemnites were sharks, bony fishes, and marine reptiles. Belemnites, like most of the modern coleoids, were relatively short lived, most likely living only for 1–2 years. Understanding the biomineralization of belemnite rostra is highly relevant for an improved interpretation of their geochemistry. Here we confirm that belemnite rostra are composed of low Mg‐calcite fibres, but they do not contain distinct types of laminae. These fibres are composed of two distinct calcite phases. One phase is a filigree network of tetrahedral organic‐rich calcite and the second phase is represented by organic‐poor calcite.