Buprenorphine has become of increasing interest to be an alternative to methadone in the treatment of heroin addicts. The aim of the paper is to review, from a clinical perspective, the current status of what is known about the pharmacology of buprenorphine, with a particular emphasis on the issues of maintenance therapy in heroin addiction. A systematic review of published follow-up data, from observational and experimental studies was done. Electronic databases Medline and PSYNDEXplus were searched from their earliest entries. Buprenorphine appears to be a well-tolerated drug, with a benign overall side effect. Buprenorphine is an additional treatment option for heroin dependent patients, especially for those who do not wish to start or continue with methadone or for those who do not seem to benefit from adequate dosages of methadone.