Ulcerative colitis (UC) is characterized by a life-long chronic course with remissions and exacerbations. Approximately 15% of patients have a severe attack requiring hospitalization at some time during their illness. These patients are traditionally treated with intravenous corticosteroids, with a response rate of approximately 60%. The patients who do not respond to steroid treatment usually require surgical removal of the large bowel (proctocolectomy or colectomy with an anal pouch). This surgical procedure essentially cures the patient from the disease but is associated with complications such as pouchitis. Few alternative treatments exist for severe ulcerative colitis: immunosuppressive medications (such as azathioprine) have a slow onset of action and are therefore usually ineffective. Antibiotics are not proven to be effective and biological treatments such as infliximab are still under investigation. The introduction of cyclosporine-A (CsA) for use in patients with severe ulcerative colitis (UC) has provided an alternative to patients previously facing only surgical options. Cyclosporine acts mainly by inhibiting T lymphocyte function, which is essential for the propagation of inflammation. Unlike most other immunosuppressive agents, CsA does not suppress the activity of other hematopoietic cells, does not cause bone marrow suppression and has a rapid onset of action. This reviews aims to systematically assess the effectiveness and safety of CsA for severe UC.