Patients with a variety of haematological conditions are at risk of infection and its most serious complication: septic shock. Mortality for septic shock remains high and especially so in patients with haematological malignancy and following bone marrow transplantation. However, advances in the treatment of severe sepsis have improved mortality rates even though evidence for the management of severe sepsis in haematology patients is limited. Wherever possible this review will concentrate on evidence directly applicable to haematology patients but inevitably will have to extrapolate evidence from other patient groups. The Surviving Sepsis Guidelines 2008 provide information on best practice in the management of patients with severe sepsis and septic shock and are broadly applicable though not specific to haematology patients. This review summarizes a practical approach to the management of severe sepsis in haematology patients and highlights areas of research which may bring new treatments in the future. The review is limited to the management and initial resuscitation of septic shock in adult haematology patients and will not address the detailed intensive care management of these patients or the management of severe sepsis in children.