For patients with chronic myeloid leukemia who become or are inherently resistant to imatinib therapy, including dose escalation, several important factors must be considered when deciding which strategy to attempt next. The second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) dasatinib and nilotinib offer improved potency and a high likelihood of success for these patients. Overall, the efficacy data are comparable for these two agents, and so physicians should consider the BCR-ABL mutation profile and the patient's history to make an educated decision on the best choice. Only a few BCR-ABL mutations seem to be less responsive to either nilotinib or dasatinib and it is recommended to choose the second-line TKI that has shown clinical activity against the specific mutation in these cases. For patients with all other mutations, and for patients with no mutations, it is recommended to choose the second-generation TKI based on the patient's disease history. It is important to choose an agent that minimizes the likelihood of exacerbating the patient's past tolerability issues to imatinib, or comorbid conditions. Here, we propose a treatment algorithm for imatinib-resistant patients based on BCR-ABL mutation status and patient history.