Systemic therapy for atopic dermatitis (AD) is indicated in patients with severe disease refractory to adequate topical treatment. Currently available drugs aim to decrease inflammation by suppressing and/or modulating immune responses and thus may indirectly improve skin barrier function, resulting in a decrease in clinical signs and symptoms in particular pruritus. Before considering systemic treatment, patient adherence to topical treatment including skin care has to be ensured. The selection of the drug depends on the disease severity, localization, complications, concomitant diseases, and age of the patient, but also on their availability and costs as well as the doctor's experience. Bearing in mind the potential risk of resistance, systemic therapy with antibiotics should be exclusively considered in clinically manifest infections such as in children. Here, we review recently published clinical trials and case reports on systemic therapy of pediatric and adult patients with AD to draw conclusions for clinical practice. Although AD is a common disease, controlled clinical studies investigating the efficacy of systemic drugs are scarce, except for cyclosporine, which has been approved for the therapy of severe AD.