Fumaric acid ester (FAE) therapy has proved to be safe and effective in patients with severe psoriasis vulgaris. This treatment was introduced nearly 30 years ago, but is only now gaining renewed interest among dermatologists. FAE therapy is licensed in Germany and registration is pending in many European countries. Multicentre trials have confirmed the beneficial effect of FAE in psoriasis and have defined the spectrum of its adverse effects. Although the mode of action of FAEs in the treatment of psoriasis is not fully understood, recent experimental data point towards a skewing of the Th1-dominated T-cell response in psoriasis to a Th2-like pattern, and inhibition of proliferation of keratinocytes. This article reviews the experimental and clinical information on FAEs in psoriasis and provides guidelines for the clinical use of FAEs derived from a consensus meeting of leading experts.