INTRODUCTION: Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) patients refractory to first-line therapy or relapsed after autologous stem cell transplantation have a dismal prognosis, and their treatment represents an unmet medical need. Brentuximab vedotin (BV) is a second-generation antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) constituted by an anti-CD30 antibody linked to the cytotoxic drug monomethyl auristatin E. The first administration of BV in relapsed and refractory HL patients in a phase I study showed an impressive antilymphoma activity and prompted development of the drug. Areas covered: This article reviews pharmaceutical characteristics of ADC and specific chemical features of BV related to mechanism of action and mechanism of resistance. Administration recommendation and main toxicities will also be described. Antilymphoma efficacy of BV alone and in combination with conventional chemotherapy and new compounds in different settings of HL patients will be examined. Expert opinion: BV seems to be an effective and safe option for treatment of HL patients. BV alone or in association with chemotherapy as salvage regimen or as bridge to autologous or allogeneic transplant showed encouraging results. Exploration of new drug combinations and new settings of treatment is warranted in order to reduce long-term therapy-related toxicities and ameliorate survival of poor prognosis patients.