Drug-eluting stents (DESs) have revolutionized interventional cardiology over the past few years to the extent that balloon angioplasty and bare stents did in the 1980s and 1990s. The first DESs became commercially available in Europe in 2002 and in the US in 2003, and it is estimated that up to 80% of patients who undergo stent implantation in the US now receive a DES. Two devices, Cypher® sirolimus-eluting stents (Cordis Corporation, Miami Lakes, FL) and Taxus® paclitaxel-eluting stents (Boston Scientific Corporation, Natick, MN), are currently licensed for sale in both regions. Multiple new devices using different drugs, carriers and stents are currently undergoing clinical trials to establish their efficacy and obtain approval for commercialization. While the remarkable reduction of restenosis has accounted for the success of DESs, concerns remain regarding long-term follow-up; published 3-year follow-up results are available for fewer than 200 patients overall. Reports of late stent thrombosis have emerged, particularly in relation to discontinuation of antiplatelet therapy. In patients treated with DESs, long-term administration of at least one antiplatelet agent must be continued following completion of the mandatory dual antiplatelet regimen. In this review, we summarize the findings available for DESs so far, discuss emerging safety and efficacy data, and look at the future directions for these devices.