Drug repurposing is a valuable approach in delivering new cancer therapeutics rapidly into the clinic. Existing safety and patient tolerability data for drugs already in clinical use represent an untapped resource in terms of identifying therapeutic agents for off-label protein targets. The multicellular effects of STAT3 mediated by a range of various upstream signaling pathways make it an attractive therapeutic target with utility in a range of diseases including cancer, and has led to the development of a variety of STAT3 inhibitors. Moreover, heightened STAT3 transcriptional activation in tumor cells and within the cells of the tumor microenvironment contribute to disease progression. Consequently, there are many STAT3 inhibitors in preclinical development or under evaluation in clinical trials for their therapeutic efficacy predominantly in inflammatory diseases and cancer. Despite these advances, many challenges remain in ultimately providing STAT3 inhibitors to patients as cancer treatments, highlighting the need not only for a better understanding of the mechanisms associated with STAT3 activation, but also how various pharmaceutical agents suppress STAT3 activity in various cancers. In this review we discuss the importance of STAT3-dependent functions in cancer, review the status of compounds designed as direct-acting STAT3 inhibitors, and describe some of the strategies for repurposing of drugs as STAT3 inhibitors for cancer therapy.