This paper is aimed at introducing the organometallic chemist to the fascinating area of organometallic pharmaceuticals. It commences by identifying the properties of organometallic (transition metal) compounds that lend themselves to medical applications. Next, the specialized techniques and methods that are used to assess the medicinal properties of compounds are summarized, and although these techniques are not restricted to organometallic compounds, all examples are concerned with organometallic compounds. The design and evaluation of organometallic compounds for medicinal applications are described in context with the diseases they have been evaluated against, and areas are identified that may have most potential for organometallic pharmaceuticals. Some new results, including the first example of an organo-osmium compound that might exhibit effective anticancer properties, are also described. Copyright (C) 2004 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.