Lapatinib is a potent reversible and selective inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase domains of epidermal growth factor receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER)-2 that exerts its action by competitive binding to the intracellular ATP-binding site of the receptor. It is registered for the treatment of advanced or metastatic HER-2+ breast cancer in combination with capecitabine and for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer in combination with an aromatase inhibitor. Lapatinib administered orally once daily is moderately to well tolerated, with rash and gastrointestinal adverse events as the main toxicities. In studies on the efficacy of lapatinib, direct comparisons between lapatinib and trastuzumab are lacking. Results of ongoing randomized phase III studies with lapatinib or trastuzumab in combination with taxanes as first-line agents for metastatic breast cancer as well as in the neoadjuvant and adjuvant settings are awaited.