Introduction: Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a highly aggressive neuroendocrine tumour, and its outcome is strongly conditioned by the rapid onset of resistance to conventional chemotherapeutics. First-line treatment with a combination of platinum agents and topoisomerase inhibitors has been the standard of care for over 30 years, with disappointing clinical outcome caused by early-acquired chemoresistance. In this disheartening scenario, novel treatment strategies are being implemented in order to either revert or bypass resistance mechanisms. Areas covered: The general mechanism of action of the standard frontline treatment regimens for SCLC, as well as the known resistance mechanisms to these drugs, is reviewed. Moreover, we focus on the current preclinical and clinical evidence on the potential role of PARP inhibitors and rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T) to tackle chemoresistance in SCLC. Expert opinion: Preliminary evidence supports PARP inhibitors and Rova-T as two promising approaches to either revert or bypass chemoresistance in SCLC, respectively. The identification of potential predictive biomarkers of response to these innovative treatments (SLFN11 and DLL3) has shortened the gap between SCLC and personalized targeted therapy. Further large-scale clinical studies are urgently needed for a better designation of PARP inhibitors and Rova-T in the therapeutic algorithm of SCLC patients.