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Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive tumor with poor prognosis, whose exposure to asbestos fibers is the main etiology. The incidence of MPM is anticipated to increase worldwide during the first half ofthis century. MPM is notoriously refractory to most treatments, and the only standard of care is cisplatin and antifolate first-line chemotherapy. The urgent need for additional therapeutic agents, in parallel with advances in the knowledge of the molecular events of oncogenesis, has resulted in the development of the so-called ‘targeted agents’ that specifically inhibit critical pathways in malignant cells and in their microenvironment. We carried out a comprehensive review of the literature from January 2000 to May 2010 on studies that assessed targeted agents for the systemic treatment of MPM. Although tyrosine kinase inhibitors directed against the epidermal growth factor and the platelet-derived growth factor receptors did not show significant clinical activity in phase II studies, some other targeted therapies seemed promising, notably histone deacetylase inhibitors and antiangiogenic agents. However, none of these has yet reached daily practice. That is the reason why efforts must continue in the area of clinical and translational research for MPM.