In this paper, we consider the family of skew generalized t (SGT) distributions originally introduced by Theodossiou [P. Theodossiou, Financial data and the skewed generalized t distribution, Manage. Sci. Part 1 44 (12) ( 1998), pp. 1650-1661] as a skew extension of the generalized t (GT) distribution. The SGT distribution family warrants special attention, because it encompasses distributions having both heavy tails and skewness, and many of the widely used distributions such as Student's t, normal, Hansen's skew t, exponential power, and skew exponential power (SEP) distributions are included as limiting or special cases in the SGT family. We show that the SGT distribution can be obtained as the scale mixture of the SEP and generalized gamma distributions. We investigate several properties of the SGT distribution and consider the maximum likelihood estimation of the location, scale, and skewness parameters under the assumption that the shape parameters are known. We show that if the shape parameters are estimated along with the location, scale, and skewness parameters, the influence function for the maximum likelihood estimators becomes unbounded. We obtain the necessary conditions to ensure the uniqueness of the maximum likelihood estimators for the location, scale, and skewness parameters, with known shape parameters. We provide a simple iterative re-weighting algorithm to compute the maximum likelihood estimates for the location, scale, and skewness parameters and show that this simple algorithm can be identified as an EM-type algorithm. We finally present two applications of the SGT distributions in robust estimation.