The complement system is a central component of innate immunity and bridges the innate to the adaptive immune response. However, it can also turn its destructive capabilities against host cells and is involved in numerous diseases and pathological conditions. Modulation of the complement system has been recognized as a promising strategy in drug discovery, and a large number of therapeutic modalities have been developed. However, successful marketing of complement-targeted drugs has proved to be more difficult than initially expected, and many strategies have been discontinued. The US Food and Drug Administration's approval of the first complement-specific drug, an antibody against complement component C5 (eculizumab; Soliris), in March 2007, was a long-awaited breakthrough in the field. Approval of eculizumab validates the complement system as therapeutic target and might facilitate clinical development of other promising drug candidates.