The transdermal route is an excellent site for drug delivery due to the avoidance of gastric degradation and hepatic metabolism, in addition to easy accessibility. Although offering numerous attractive advantages, many available transdermal systems are not able to deliver drugs and other compounds as desired. The use of hypodermic needles, associated with phobia, pain and accidental needle-sticks has been used to overcome the delivery limitation of macromolecular compounds. The means to overcome the disadvantages of hypodermic needles has led to the development of microneedles for transdermal delivery. However, since the initial stages of microneedle fabrication, recent research has been conducted integrating various fabrication techniques for generating sophisticated microneedle devices for transdermal delivery including progress on their commercialization. A concerted effort has been made within this review to highlight the current advances of microneedles, and to provide an update of pharmaceutical research in the field of microneedle-assisted transdermal drug delivery systems. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.