Palliative care and hospices have developed rapidly since the late 1960s. The pioneering work of Cicely Saunders was instrumental in drawing attention to the end-of-life care needs of patients with advanced malignant disease. Palliative care began to be defined as a subject of activity in the 1970s and came to be synonymous with the physical, social, psychological, and spiritual support of patients with life-limiting illness, delivered by a multidisciplinary team. Palliative care services have developed in many settings and have often been closely related to oncology. The worldwide need for this type of care remains much greater than the available provision, but there are encouraging signs of recognition by policymakers and influential bodies, and interest in palliative care has never been greater. This paper charts the modern history of such care around the world and concludes on some current issues and future challenges.