MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are evolutionarily conserved small non-coding RNAs that have crucial roles in regulating gene expression. Increasing evidence supports a role for miRNAs in many human diseases, including cancer and autoimmune disorders. The function of miRNAs can be efficiently and specifically inhibited by chemically modified antisense oligonucleotides, supporting their potential as targets for the development of novel therapies for several diseases. In this Review we summarize our current knowledge of the design and performance of chemically modified miRNA-targeting antisense oligonucleotides, discuss various in vivo delivery strategies and analyse ongoing challenges to ensure the specificity and efficacy of therapeutic oligonucleotides in vivo. Finally, we review current progress on the clinical development of miRNA-targeting therapeutics.