Polyamines are small organic cations that are essential for normal cell growth and development in eukaryotes. Under normal physiological conditions, intracellular polyamine concentrations are tightly regulated through a dynamic network of biosynthetic and catabolic enzymes, and a poorly characterised transport system. This precise regulation ensures that the intracellular concentration of polyamines is maintained within strictly controlled limits. It has frequently been observed that the metabolism of, and the requirement for, polyamines in tumours is frequently dysregulated. Elevated levels of polyamines have been associated with breast, colon, lung, prostate and skin cancers, and altered levels of rate-limiting enzymes in both biosynthesis and catabolism have been observed. Based on these observations and the absolute requirement for polyamines in tumour growth, the polyamine pathway is a rational target for chemoprevention and chemotherapeutics. Here we describe the recent advances made in the polyamine field and focus on the roles of polyamines and polyamine metabolism in neoplasia through a discussion of the current animal models for the polyamine pathway, chemotherapeutic strategies that target the polyamine pathway, chemotherapeutic clinical trials for polyamine pathway-specific drugs and ongoing clinical trials targeting polyamine biosynthesis.