Modern chemotherapy regimens and supportive care have produced remarkable improvements in the overall survival of patients with hematologic malignancies. However, the development of targeted small molecules, monoclonal antibodies, and biological therapies that demonstrate greater efficacy and lower toxicity remains highly desirable in hematology, and oncology in general. In the context of biological therapies, T-lymphocyte based treatments have enormous potential. Donor lymphocyte infusion in patients relapsed after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant pioneered the concept that T lymphocytes can effectively control tumor growth, and this was then followed by the development of cell culture strategies to generate T lymphocytes with selective activity against tumor cells. Over the past decade, it has become clear that the adoptive transfer of ex vivo expanded antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes promotes sustained antitumor effects in patients with virus-associated lymphomas, such as Epstein-Barr virus related post-transplant lymphomas and Hodgkin's lymphomas. Because of this compelling clinical evidence and the concomitant development of methodologies for robust gene transfer to human T lymphocytes, the field has rapidly evolved, offering new opportunities to extend T-cell based therapies. This review summarizes the most recent biological and clinical developments using genetically manipulated T cells for the treatment of hematologic malignancies.