Essential thrombocythemia is a clonal myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by an elevated platelet count, the potential for both microvascular and macrovascular sequelae, and a risk for transformation to myelofibrosis or acute myeloid leukemia. A systematic and detailed initial analysis is essential for accurate diagnosis of essential thrombocythemia, as many etiologies are reactive and benign. Once a diagnosis has been made, risk stratification and symptom assessment are vital to guide the subsequent therapy. Treatment may be required in high-risk disease, such as in cases of advanced age or prior thrombotic events. Systemic therapy is aimed at reducing the thrombotic risk and includes daily low dose aspirin and in some patients, cytoreductive therapy. Currently, the first line cytoreductive therapy includes hydroxyurea or pegylated interferon, with a phase III clinical trial underway comparing these two important agents. Anagrelide and clinical trials are reserved for refractory or intolerant patients. Looking to the future, new therapies including Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) and telomerase inhibitors are promising and may become valuable to the treatment armamentarium for those afflicted with essential thrombocythemia.