Many cellular processes converge on the proteasome, and its key regulatory role is increasingly being recognized. Proteasome inhibition allows the manipulation of many cellular pathways including apoptotic and cell cycle mechanisms. The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib has enhanced responses in newly diagnosed patients with myeloma and provides a new line of therapy in relapsed and refractory patients. Malignant cells are more sensitive to proteasome inhibition than normal haematopoietic cells. Proteasome inhibition enhances many conventional therapies and its role in leukaemia is promising. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.