These updated guidelines are based on a first edition of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry Guidelines for Biological Treatment of Schizophrenia published in 2005. For this 2012 revision, all available publications pertaining to the biological treatment of schizophrenia were reviewed systematically to allow for an evidence-based update. These guidelines provide evidence-based practice recommendations that are clinically and scientifically meaningful and these guidelines are intended to be used by all physicians diagnosing and treating people suffering from schizophrenia. Based on the first version of these guidelines, a systematic review of the MEDLINE/PUBMED database and the Cochrane Library, in addition to data extraction from national treatment guidelines, has been performed for this update. The identified literature was evaluated with respect to the strength of evidence for its efficacy and then categorised into six levels of evidence (A-F; Bandelow et al. 2008b, World J Biol Psychiatry 9:242). This first part of the updated guidelines covers the general descriptions of antipsychotics and their side effects, the biological treatment of acute schizophrenia and the management of treatment-resistant schizophrenia.