Recent advances in immuno-oncology have the potential to transform the practice of medical oncology. Antibodies directed against negative regulators of T-cell function (checkpoint inhibitors), engineered cell therapies and innate immune stimulators, such as oncolytic viruses, are effective in a wide range of cancers. Immune’based therapies have had a clinically meaningful impact on the treatment of advanced melanoma, and the lessons regarding use of single agents and combinations in melanoma may be applicable to the treatment of urological cancers. Checkpoint inhibitors, cytokine therapy and therapeutic vaccines are already showing promise in urothelial bladder cancer, renal cell carcinoma and prostate cancer. Critical areas of future immuno-oncology research include the prospective identification of patients who will respond to current immune-based cancer therapies and the identification of new therapeutic agents that promote immune priming in tumours, and increase the rate of durable clinical responses.