The ubiquitin proteasome pathway is the most significant intracellular proteolytic pathway. The target proteins are usually ubiquitinated prior to degradation by the proteasome; however, ubiquitin-independent targeting mechanisms have also been reported (e.g., the antizyme-mediated degradation of ornithine decarboxylase). Aberrations in the components of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway are commonly observed in many cancers, and uncontrolled growth of cancer cells can result either from stabilization of oncoproteins (e.g., c-jun) or increased degradation of tumor suppressor proteins (e.g., p53). In addition, due to the pleiotropic functions of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway in cells, there is great interest in developing inhibitors to specifically block this pathway for cancer treatment. This review summarizes the recent literature and several patented inventions on the ubiquitin proteasome pathway with respect to its role in cancer development and treatment.