Various agents to treat immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) have been developed on the principle that stimulating the thrombopoietin (TPO) receptor would increase platelet production. First-generation agents--recombinant human thrombopoietin (rHuTPO) and pegylated recombinant human megakaryocyte growth and development factor (PEG rHuMGDF)--showed promise, but observations of antibody formation to PEG rHuMGDF led to the discontinuation of development of both agents. Second-generation agents--the TPO peptide mimetics, TPO non-peptide mimetics, and TPO agonist antibodies--have been developed to reduce or eliminate the problem of antigenicity. Clinical studies for some of these agents, such as AMG 531 (romiplosim, Nplate) and eltrombopag (Promacta), are demonstrating their relative safety and efficacy in increasing platelet counts in patients with ITP; AMG 531 and eltrombopag are in late-stage clinical development and are able to stimulate platelet production in patients with ITP. Some differences in safety profiles have been described and are undergoing further study. There are currently seven second-generation TPO receptor agonists that have been reported in the literature, representing the potential advantages--and continuing challenges--with this novel class of platelet-stimulating therapies for ITP and possibly thrombocytopenia in other disease states as well.