A theoretical model of excitonic states in semiconductor heterostructures is presented. The approach employs the envelope function approximation, and involves a two parameter variational calculation in which the symmetry of the component of the wave function representing the relative motion is allowed to vary between the two-and three-dimensional limits. Detailed calculations are described for a variety of single quantum wells and superlattices. The results show that the excitons are neither 2D nor 3D like, but are intermediate in character. Furthermore, in the main, they assume the symmetry of a prolate spheroid. An exception to this occurs in the special case of an asymmetric double quantum well close to resonance, where two stable exciton states are found for the same one-particle states. One of these 'twin' exciton states is an oblate spheroid. The results illustrate the need for accurate determination of excitonic properties if the dynamical evaluation of exciton states, in for example, quantum well lasers, is to be readily determined.