Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) is a common but serious condition that is related with poor quality of life, morbidity and mortality. Its incidence and associated healthcare costs are rising and its management remains palliative, with median survival ranging from 3 to 12 months. During the last decade there has been significant progress in unravelling the pathophysiology of MPE, as well as its diagnostics, imaging, and management. Nowadays, formerly bed-ridden patients are genotyped, phenotyped, and treated on an ambulatory basis. This article attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of current advances in MPE from bench to bedside. In addition, it highlights unanswered questions in current clinical practice and suggests future directions for basic and clinical research in the field.