Currently, 14 intact, unconjugated, monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) are approved for therapeutic use in the United States, and more than 100 Mabs are presently undergoing clinical development or regulatory review. Mabs are large molecular weight glycoproteins that embody structural, biochemical, and pharmacologic properties distinct from other biologics or chemically synthesized compounds. Early therapeutic Mabs were murine proteins, and clinical testing of these agents revealed serious immune-mediated toxicities. The side effect profile of murine Mab therapeutic agents restricted the clinical development of these agents to indications with high morbidity and/or mortality (ie, oncology, graft vs host rejection). Advances in genetic engineering and protein expression technologies resulted in the development of Mabs composed either predominately (ie, mouse/human chimeric, "humanized") or completely (ie, "fully human" Mabs) of the human amino acid sequence. The production of chimeric, humanized, and fully human Mabs significantly reduced the immune-mediated toxicities and expanded the utility for these agents in numerous therapeutic areas, particularly in chronic disorders requiring either long-term administration (ie, rheumatoid arthritis) or treatment upon the flare up of disease (Crohn's disease, psoriasis). This review provides an overview of the molecular, biochemical, and pharmacokinetic properties and clinical development history of Mabs and details how these factors currently affect the scope and design of early clinical development strategies for these drug candidates. Emphasis is placed on the criteria for selecting appropriate subject populations for phase I testing of Mabs.