Cancer pain, especially pain caused by metastasis to bone, is a severe type of pain, and unless the cause and consequences can be resolved, the pain will become chronic. As detection and survival among patients with cancer have improved, pain has become an increasing challenge, because traditional therapies are often only partially effective. Until recently, knowledge of cancer pain mechanisms was poor compared with understanding of neuropathic and inflammatory pain states. We now view cancer-induced bone pain as a complex pain state involving components of both inflammatory and neuropathic pain but also exhibiting elements that seem unique to cancer pain. In addition, the pain state is often unpredictable, and the intensity of the pain is highly variable, making it difficult to manage. The establishment of translational animal models has started to reveal some of the molecular components involved in cancer pain. We present the essential pharmacologic and neurobiologic mechanisms involved in the generation and continuance of cancer-induced bone pain and discuss these in the context of understanding and treating patients. We discuss changes in peripheral signaling in the area of tumor growth, examine spinal cord mechanisms of sensitization, and finally address central processing. Our aim is to provide a mechanistic background for the sensory characteristics of cancer-induced bone pain as a basis for better understanding and treating this condition.