Pancreatic cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-related death. Despite the advances of the molecular pathogenesis, pancreatic cancer remains a major unsolved health problem. Overall, the 5-year survival rate is < 5% and only approximately 20% of the 10% of patients with resectable disease survive 5 years. Recently, the European Study Group for Pancreatic Cancer 1 trial demonstrated substantially increased survival from adjuvant chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil-folinic acid and preliminary data showed prolonged disease-free survival from adjuvant gemcitabine. Current palliative therapeutic approaches mostly focused on evaluating chemotherapy regimens in which gemcitabine is combined with a second cytotoxic agent. Recently, large randomised trials of combinations of gemcitabine with either capecitabine or with erlotinib demonstrated prolonged survival and 1-year survival rates of approximately 25%. The advance of molecular biology has led to the elucidation of molecular events that are important for pancreatic carcinogenesis and has provided a foundation for the development of novel chemotherapeutic and biological agents that appear to be promising and are likely to play a future role in the treatment of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.