The prosurvival protein BCL2 is uniformly expressed in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and enables leukemia cell survival in the face of cytotoxic treatment and increasing genomic, metabolic, and oxidative stresses. The therapeutic potential of BCL2 inhibition was first observed in the clinic following BCL2 antisense therapy. Subsequently, a number of small molecule inhibitors were developed to mimic the function of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins (BH3-mimetics). These molecules are now in late-phase clinical trials and demonstrate potent activity, including the occurrence of acute tumor lysis syndrome in subjects with multiply relapsed, chemorefractory CLL. In this review, we discuss the history and summarize current knowledge regarding BCL2 inhibition as therapy of CLL.