Dynamic chromatin remodeling underlies many, if not all, DNA-templated biological processes, including gene transcription; DNA replication and repair; chromosome condensation; and segregation and apoptosis. Disruption of these processes has been linked to the development and progression of cancer. The mechanisms of dynamic chromatin remodeling include the use of covalent histone modifications, histone variants, ATP-dependent complexes and DNA methylation. Together, these mechanisms impart variation into the chromatin fiber, and this variation gives rise to an 'epigenetic landscape' that extends the biological output of DNA alone. Here, we review recent advances in chromatin remodeling, and pay particular attention to mechanisms that appear to be linked to human cancer. Where possible, we discuss the implications of these advances for disease-management strategies.