Updated international guidelines published in 2006 have broadened the scope for the use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) in supporting delivery of myelosuppressive chemotherapy. G-CSF prophylaxis is now recommended when the overall risk of febrile neutropenia (FN) due to regimen and individual patient factors is >or=20%, for supporting dose-dense and dose-intense chemotherapy and to help maintain dose density where dose reductions have been shown to compromise outcomes. Indeed, there is now a large body of evidence for the efficacy of G-CSFs in supporting dose-dense chemotherapy. Predictive tools that can help target those patients who are most at risk of FN are now becoming available. Recent analyses have shown that, by reducing the risk of FN and chemotherapy dose delays and reductions, G-CSF prophylaxis can potentially enhance survival benefits in patients receiving chemotherapy in curative settings. Accumulating data from 'real-world' clinical practice settings indicate that patients often receive abbreviated courses of daily G-CSF and consequently obtain a reduced level of FN protection. A single dose of PEGylated G-CSF (pegfilgrastim) may provide a more effective, as well as a more convenient, alternative to daily G-CSF. Prospective studies are needed to validate the importance of delivering the full dose intensity of standard chemotherapy regimens, with G-CSF support where appropriate, across a range of settings. These studies should also incorporate prospective evaluation of risk stratification for neutropenia and its complications.