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Here we review the results from relevant phase III trials and discuss treatment strategies for challenging subgroups of melanoma patients.Targeted therapies induce rapid responses in the majority of BRAF-mutant patients, however, 50% of these responders will develop resistance within approximately 13 months. In contrast, inhibitors of checkpoints on T cells, particularly inhibitors of PD-1, induce responses in 40–55% of patients (monotherapy or whenever combined with anti-CTLA-4), and these responses tend to be durable. Data from subgroup analyses of large clinical trials, as well as patient-centred factors, help guide clinicians in their choice of first-line therapy.Immune checkpoint inhibitors and MAP kinase pathway-targeted therapies have revolutionized the management of advanced melanoma, and significantly prolong the overall survival of patients with this disease. The median overall survival is over 2 years for both anti-PD-1-based therapy and combined BRAF and MEK inhibition. Without head-to-head comparison data for either therapy, choice of first-line drug treatment is difficult.