Recent clinical trials have demonstrated the ability to durably control cancer in some patients by manipulating T lymphocytes. These immunotherapies are revolutionizing cancer treatment but benefit only a minority of patients. It is thus a crucial time for clinicians, cancer scientists and immunologists to determine the next steps in shifting cancer treatment towards better cancer control. This Review describes recent advances in our understanding of tumour-associated myeloid cells. These cells remain less studied than T lymphocytes but have attracted particular attention because their presence in tumours is often linked to altered patient survival. Also, experimental studies indicate that myeloid cells modulate key cancer-associated activities, including immune evasion, and affect virtually all types of cancer therapy. Consequently, targeting myeloid cells could overcome limitations of current treatment options.