The introduction of bortezomib, a novel first-in-class proteasome inhibitor, has been a major break through in the treatment of multiple myeloma. It is currently approved for the treatment of myeloma in the relapsed setting post transplant or as a second line treatment in patients unsuitable for transplantation. In pre-clinical studies bortezomib showed a number of different anti-myeloma effects including disruption of the cell cycle and induction of apoptosis, alteration of the bone marrow microenvironment and inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB). Due to its novel mechanism of action, bortezomib has been shown to induce responses in previously refractory patients (including those with poor risk cytogenetics), and results in an increased progression free and overall survival in relapsed patients when compared with dexamethasone treatment alone. It is well tolerated and can be administered in the outpatient setting with manageable toxicities. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common dose limiting toxicity and thrombocytopenia can generally be managed with platelet transfusions without reducing or omitting doses. Bortezomib shows a synergistic effect in combination with dexamethasone and also sensitises myeloma cells to the effects of other chemotherapeutic agents with major response rates of over 50% being shown in the relapsed setting. Initial data from ongoing trials in front line therapy are encouraging with response rates of 80%–90% when bortezomib is given in combination with other agents and importantly, the ability to mobilize peripheral blood stem cells is not impaired.