Despite the standardisation of surgical techniques and significant progress in chemotherapeutics over the last 30 years, advanced epithelial ovarian cancer remains the most lethal gynaecological malignancy in the western world. Although the majority of women achieve a remission following primary therapy, most patients with advanced stage disease will eventually relapse and become candidates for 'salvage' therapy. The chances of a further remission depend on factors such as the 'treatment-free interval', and there are now a large number of chemotherapy agents with activity in ovarian cancer available to the oncologist. Recent randomised studies have reported on survival benefits for chemotherapy in recurrent disease, and therefore careful and appropriate selection of treatments has assumed a greater importance. This article reviews the most current data, and discusses the factors involved in making individualised treatment decisions.