Apoptosis is a crucial biological process that prevents uncontrolled cell proliferation and eliminates harmful cells. Resistance to apoptotic stimuli is a hallmark feature of various cancers. One of the mechanisms through which tumor cells are believed to acquire resistance to apoptosis is by overexpression of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs). IAPs are a group of structurally related proteins that were initially identified in baculoviruses. Mammalian IAPs block apoptosis either by binding and inhibiting caspases or through caspase-independent mechanisms. This family of proteins has become increasingly prominent in the field of cancer biology. To date, overexpression of several IAPs has been detected in various cancers. This paper reviews the recent advances in the research of IAPs. The differential expression and the biological significance of each IAP in various cancer types will be discussed. Finally, we review the most recent advances in the research efforts aimed at using IAPs as potential targets for cancer therapy.