Cancer therapy has long relied on the rapid proliferation of tumour cells for effective treatment. However, the lack of specificity in this approach often leads to undesirable side effects. Many reports have described various 'metabolic transformation' events that enable cancer cells to survive, suggesting that metabolic pathways might be good targets. There are currently several drugs under development or in clinical trials that are based on specifically targeting the altered metabolic pathways of tumours. This Review highlights pathways against which there are already drugs in different stages of development and also discusses additional druggable targets.