Substantial progress in understanding the biology of regulatory T cells and their roles in health and disease has been achieved in the past 10 years. This has led to an increasing interest in the possibility of using regulatory T cells as a biological therapy to preserve and restore tolerance to self antigens and alloantigens. Immunotherapy by the adoptive transfer of regulatory T cells may have several advantages over conventional treatments. However, several hurdles have to be overcome before such a therapy can enter clinical practice. This Review summarizes our current knowledge of regulatory T cells, illustrates the ongoing regulatory T-cell-based clinical trials, analyses the strengths and pitfalls of this new therapeutic approach, and highlights the future perspectives.