The last few years have seen a rapid expansion in the use and availability of ablation techniques with hundreds of papers published. Radiofrequency remains the front-runner in terms of cost, ease of set-up, versatility and flexibility but other techniques are catching up. Ablation with cryotherapy and microwave, which were previously only available at open laparotomy due to the large size of the probes, are now readily performed percutaneously, with a predictable reduction in morbidity. Ablation is now accepted as the first line of treatment in patients with limited volume hepatocellular carcinoma who are not candidates for transplantation. There is continuing debate in most other areas but the evidence is increasing for an important role in liver metastases, renal carcinoma, inoperable lung tumours and some bone tumours.