Human pancreatic cancer is a malignant disease with almost equal incidence and mortality. Effective diagnostic and therapeutic strategies are still urgently needed to improve its survival rate. With advances in structural and functional genomics, recent work has focused on targeted molecular therapy using monoclonal antibodies. This review summarizes the target molecules on the tumor cell surface and normal tissue stroma, which are related to pancreatic cancer oncogenesis, tumor growth or resistance to chemotherapy, as well as molecules involved in regulating inflammation and host immunoresponses. Targeted molecules include cell-surface receptors, such as the EGF receptor, HER2, death receptor 5 and IGF-1 receptor. Effects of monoclonal antibodies against these target molecules alone or in combination with chemotherapy, small-molecule signal transduction inhibitors, or radiation therapy are also discussed. Also discussed are the use of toxin or radioisotope conjugates, and information relating to the use of these targeting agents in pancreatic cancer clinical trials. Although targeted molecular therapy with monoclonal antibodies has made some progress in pancreatic cancer treatment, especially in preclinical studies, its clinical application to improve the survival rate of pancreatic cancer patients requires further investigation. © 2009 Future Medicine Ltd.