Over the past four decades, a great deal has been learned about the pharmacology and mechanisms of action of antithyroid drugs. Their ability to inhibit hormone biosynthesis involves complex interactions with thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin, many of which are still poorly understood. Their spectrum of activity is much wider than previously thought, and a number of clinically important extrathyroidal actions have been identified. Despite a greater appreciation for the intricacies of antithyroid-drug pharmacology, controversies still surround the use of these agents in the treatment of thyrotoxicosis. These controversies are apt to continue until the pathophysiology of Graves' disease is fully elucidated.