Introduction: The use of monoclonal antibodies is one of the strategies for targeting the specific key points of the main pathways of cancer growth and survival, but only a few antibodies have offered a clear clinical benefit in the treatment of non-haematological malignancies. Areas covered: This review summarizes the general properties of monoclonal antibodies, including structure, nomenclature and production techniques. The antibodies approved for use in clinical practice for the treatment of non-haematological tumors and those antibodies still being developed in this setting are briefly described. The types of antibody fragments are also reported. Expert opinion: Monoclonal antibodies were initially developed in order to avoid the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy on healthy tissues. However antibodies have not yet replaced chemotherapy agents, since the combination of both kinds of drugs have usually appeared to achieve higher benefit compared with chemotherapy alone. The research for the development of new monoclonal antibodies aims to identify further targets and to provide innovative antibody constructs.