Pluripotent stem-cell lines can be obtained through the reprogramming of somatic cells from different tissues and species by ectopic expression of defined factors. In theory, these cells--known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)--are suitable for various purposes, including disease modelling, autologous cell therapy, drug or toxicity screening and basic research. Recent methodological improvements are increasing the ease and efficiency of reprogramming, and reducing the genomic modifications required to complete the process. However, depending on the downstream applications, certain technologies have advantages over others. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of the existing reprogramming approaches with the aim of providing readers with a better understanding of the reprogramming process and a basis for selecting the most suitable method for basic or clinical applications.