Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) take advantage of the specificity of a monoclonal antibody to deliver a linked cytotoxic agent directly into a tumour cell. The development of these compounds provides exciting opportunities for improvements in patient care. Here, we review the key issues impacting on the clinical success of ADCs in cancer therapy. Like many other developing therapeutic classes, there remain challenges in the design and optimisation of these compounds. As the clinical applications for ADCs continue to expand, key strategies to improve patient outcomes include better patient selection for treatment and the identification of mechanisms of therapy resistance.