Clinical trials specifically targeting and neutralizing the cytokine, tumour necrosis factor (TNF), have recently provided evidence of efficacy and a promise of a novel approach for the treatment and management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). With the evolving emergence of anti-TNF therapeutics, several unresolved issues have come to light, including the assessment of safety and efficacy of current therapies, study design for new agents and cost-benefit issues. During an international meeting of leading rheumatologists and specialists, the majority opinion regarding the use of anti-TNF therapy was that these agents are most appropriate in patients with active disease who have insufficient response to methotrexate, which is presently considered the standard for RA treatment. Anti-TNF therapy was also recommended in patients with active disease unable to tolerate methotrexate therapy, or who have not responded to at least two other disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). In patients with RA who have serious infection or malignancy, the use of anti-TNF therapies was not advised. Time, experience and clinical data from recently completed and currently ongoing studies of infliximab and etanercept, which will be available in the future, will help determine the ultimate role of such targeted therapeutics. Additional data on anti-TNF therapeutics as monotherapy or in various combinations are still needed to achieve maximum disease control safely with currently available DMARDs.