One feature of the Italian chemical sector today is the presence of a number of small and medium enterprises, very specialized and able to generate good margins in comparison to those of their EU counterparts. The main characteristics of this phenomenon are the wide variety of the sub-sector niches in which the Italian chemical industry can be disaggregated and the high degree of internationalization of the companies. After an introduction (par. 1 and 2) the paper examine the present structure of the sector in terms of industrial demography (par. 3). The fourth paragraph examines through a prosopographic approach the main dimensions of these companies' competitive advantage (products, processes, relationships with the context at a national and international level). In par. 5 some conclusions are drawn.