For a number of reasons, several of the more 'traditional' ectoparasiticides in the small animal veterinarian's armoury have been withdrawn over the past few years. New, safer products which are long-acting and easier to apply than the conventional dips, rinses and aerosol sprays of the past have replaced them. However, relatively few such novel acaricidal preparations have become commercially available. Consequently, practitioners and researchers frequently experiment with the drugs they have at their disposal to assess their efficacy against a variety of target acarids when used at different dosages and/or via different routes of administration, compared with those recommended by the manufacturer. This paper reviews the anecdotal and peer-reviewed reports describing the use of modern acaricides in dogs and cats that have recently appeared in the veterinary literature. It should be stressed, however, that no medicine should be prescribed for extra-label use without the informed consent of the owner.