Despite more than three decades of intensive effort, no effective pharmacological inhibitors of the RAS oncoproteins have reached the clinic, prompting the widely held perception that RAS proteins are 'undruggable'. However, recent data from the laboratory and the clinic have renewed our hope for the development of RAS-inhibitory molecules. In this Review, we summarize the progress and the promise of five key approaches. Firstly, we focus on the prospects of using direct inhibitors of RAS. Secondly, we address the issue of whether blocking RAS membrane association is a viable approach. Thirdly, we assess the status of targeting RAS downstream effector signalling, which is arguably the most favourable current approach. Fourthly, we address whether the search for synthetic lethal interactors of mutant RAS still holds promise. Finally, RAS-mediated changes in cell metabolism have recently been described and we discuss whether these changes could be exploited for new therapeutic directions. We conclude with perspectives on how additional complexities, which are not yet fully understood, may affect each of these approaches.