Human cancer genomes harbour a variety of alterations leading to the deregulation of key pathways in tumour cells. The genomic characterization of tumours has uncovered numerous genes recurrently mutated, deleted or amplified, but gene fusions have not been characterized as extensively. Here we develop heuristics for reliably detecting gene fusion events in RNA-seq data and apply them to nearly 7,000 samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas. We thereby are able to discover several novel and recurrent fusions involving kinases. These findings have immediate clinical implications and expand the therapeutic options for cancer patients, as approved or exploratory drugs exist for many of these kinases.