Cytotoxic nucleoside analogues are clinically important anticancer drugs. These agents behave as antimetabolites, compete with physiologic nucleosides, and, consequently, interact with a large number of intracellular targets to induce cytotoxicity. Nucleoside analogues share some general common characteristics, namely in terms of requiring transport by specific membrane transporters and intracellular metabolism. However these compounds differ in regard to the preferential interaction with certain targets which may explain why some compounds are more effective against rapidly proliferating tumours and others on neoplasia with a more protracted evolution. Purine and pyrimidine analogues are widely used not only as antileukaemic agents, but also as cytotoxic agents to treat solid tumours. However, the clinical use of these compounds is limited by important side-effects and primary or acquired drug resistance. Thus, there is an unmet medical need for the development of new antimetabolites and for technologies allowing a more suitable and effective administration of nucleoside analogues for the treatment of cancer patients. Here, we will review literature data concerning the recent development of novel purine nucleoside analogues (clofarabine, nelarabine and forodesine) and pyrimidine nucleoside analogues (troxacitabine, sapacitabine, CP-4055, 3-C-ethynylcytidine and 5-azapyrimidines) that are in evaluation at the clinical level.