Most authorities recommend starting biological agents upon failure of at least one disease-modifying agent in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, owing to the absence of head-to-head studies, there is little guidance about which biological to select. Still, the practicing clinician has to decide. This review explores the application of published evidence to practice, discussing the goals of treatment, the (in) ability to predict individual responses to therapy, and the potential value of indirect comparisons. We suggest that cycling of biological agents, until remission is achieved or until the most effective agent for that individual patient is determined, deserves consideration in the current stage of knowledge. © 2010 BioMed Central Ltd.