Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy of the pleural surface, predominantly caused by prior asbestos exposure. There is a global epidemic of malignant pleural mesothelioma underway, and incidence rates are predicted to peak in the next few years. This article summarises the epidemiology and pathogenesis of malignant pleural mesothelioma, before describing some key factors in the patient experience and outlining common symptoms. Diagnostic approaches are reviewed, including imaging techniques and the role of various biomarkers. Treatment options are summarised, including the importance of palliative care and methods of controlling pleural effusions. The evidence for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery is reviewed, both in the palliative setting and in the context of trimodality treatment. An algorithm for managing malignant pleural effusion in malignant pleural mesothelioma patients is presented. Finally new treatment developments and novel therapeutic approaches are summarised.