There is a growing need for more effective and well-tolerated antifungal agents, particularly in the treatment and prophylaxis of systemic mycotic infections with 'opportunistic' fungal pathogens in immunocompromised patients and others at risk. Despite its limitations due to toxicity, amphotericin B still remains the most useful agent with its broad spectrum of activity and is the standard against which other and newer antifungals must be compared. Some drugs, like flucytosine, have not lived up to their promise and, apart from the advantage of oral administration, many of the early imidazole derivatives are now generally regarded as alternative agents rather than as drugs of first choice in systemic infections except in a limited number of indications. Intense research efforts have been made in recent years and this has led to the introduction of a new generation of azole antifungals, the triazoles, and other agents and delivery systems, using liposomes for example, still in the developmental stage. As yet, there is not sufficient clinical experience to allow definite conclusions to be drawn on the role of these newer agents in antifungal therapy. This paper reviews briefly the more important of the currently available antifungal agents and outlines current views on therapy for systemic fungal diseases.