Fulvestrant ('Faslodex') is a new type of endocrine treatment--an oestrogen receptor (ER) antagonist that downregulates the ER and has no agonist effects. Early efficacy data from phase I/II trials have demonstrated fulvestrant to be effective and well tolerated. Two randomised phase III trials have compared the efficacy of fulvestrant and the aromatase inhibitor, anastrozole, in postmenopausal women with advanced breast cancer progressing on prior endocrine therapy. Fulvestrant (intramuscular injection 250 mg month(-1)) was found to be at least as effective as anastrozole (orally 1 mg day(-1)) for time to progression (5.5 vs 4.1 months, respectively (hazard ratio (HR): 0.95; 95.14% confidence interval (CI), 0.82-1.10; P=0.48)) and objective response 19.2 vs 16.5%, respectively; treatment difference 2.75%; 95.14% CI, -2.27 to 9.05%; P=0.31). More recently, fulvestrant has also been shown to be noninferior to anastrozole in terms of overall survival, with median time to death being 26.4 months in fulvestrant-treated patients and 24.2 months in those treated with anastrozole (HR: 0.97; 95% CI, 0.78-1.21; P=0.82). In a further randomised phase III trial, fulvestrant was compared with tamoxifen as first-line therapy for advanced disease in postmenopausal women. In the overall population, efficacy differences favoured tamoxifen and noninferiority of fulvestrant could not be ruled out. In the prospectively defined subset of patients with ER-positive and/or progesterone receptor-positive disease, there was no statistically significant difference between fulvestrant and tamoxifen. This paper reviews the efficacy and tolerability results from these trials.