Seventeen monoclonal antibodies are currently approved in the United States for therapeutic use in organ transplantation, percutaneous coronary intervention, prophylaxis of respiratory syncytial virus disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, asthma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. All approved antibodies are of the IgG class. Thirteen are unconjugated intact antibodies, three are intact immunoconjugates, and one is a Fab fragment. Three of the antibodies are murine, five are chimeric, eight are humanized, and one is a fully human antibody generated by phage display technology. The antigen target and the structural and binding characteristics of the antibody determine the antibody's mechanism of action, pharmacokinetics, safety, and immunogenicity. Antibodies act through multiple mechanisms that include functional modulation of the antigen, recruitment of ADCC and CDC, and delivery of radionuclide or toxin payloads to target cells. Antibody half-life is usually governed by interaction with the FcRn receptor. In some cases, the antigen may act as a sink for antibody elimination. Safety profiles are determined by the pharmacology and tissue distribution of the target antigen, antibody isotype, the antibody payload, cytokine release, hypersensitivity reactions to xenogeneic protein, and immunogenicity. Fully human antibody technology may allow development of antibodies that have reduced risks of hypersensitivity reactions and immunogenicity, thereby enhancing safety and efficacy. The exquisite target specificity of antibodies, improvements in antibody engineering technology, and the wide availability of novel and validated therapeutic targets provide many current and future opportunities for the clinical development of therapeutic antibodies. Drug Dev. Res. 61:108–120, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.