Abstract Immunotherapy has become an established pillar of cancer treatment improving the prognosis of many patients with a broad variety of hematological and solid malignancies. The two main drivers behind this success are checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. This review summarizes seminal findings from clinical and translational studies recently presented or published at important meetings or in top-tier journals, respectively. For checkpoint blockade, current studies focus on combinational approaches, perioperative use, new tumor entities, response prediction, toxicity management and use in special patient populations. Regarding cellular immunotherapy, recent studies confirmed safety and efficacy of CAR T cells in larger cohorts of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia or diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Different strategies to translate the striking success of CAR T cells in B cell malignancies to other hematological and solid cancer types are currently under clinical investigation. Regarding the regional distribution of registered clinical immunotherapy trials a shift from PD-1 / PD-L1 trials (mainly performed in the US and Europe) to CAR T cell trials (majority of trials performed in the US and China) can be noted.