Metastasis, tumor relapse, and drug resistance remain major obstacles in the treatment of cancer. Therefore, more research on the mechanisms of these processes in disease is warranted for improved treatment options. Recent evidence suggests that the capability to sustain tumor growth and metastasis resides in a subpopulation of cells, termed cancer stem cells or tumor-initiating cells. Continuous proliferation and self-renewal are characteristics of stem/progenitor cells. Telomerase and the maintenance of telomeres are key players in the ability of stem and cancer cells to bypass senescence and be immortal. Therefore, telomerase inhibitors have the therapeutic potential for reducing tumor relapse by targeting cancer stem cells and other processes involved in metastasis. Herein we review the role of telomerase in the immortal phenotype of cancer and cancer stem cells, targeting telomerase in cancer, and discuss other opportunities for telomerase inhibitors to target critical steps in cancer metastasis and recurrence. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.