Background: Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) frequently responds to chemoimmunotherapy combining cytotoxic chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies. However, CLL is associated with significant genetic heterogeneity, and some high-risk forms are known to be chemo-resistant and associated with early relapse. Aims: To review the current treatment paradigm of patients with high-risk disease, in particular those with del(17p) and TP53 variants. Results: A ‘watch and wait’ approach is recommended for all patients who are asymptomatic. When symptomatic, fluorescence in situ hybridisation testing should be performed and gene sequencing considered subsequently to identify del(17p) and TP53 variants respectively. In the front-line setting, treatment within a clinical trial is the preferred option. In the relapsed or refractory setting, patients with del(17p) or TP53 aberrations should be offered treatment with a novel agent, such as ibrutinib, idelalisib-rituximab or venetoclax. However, of note, at the date of this publication venetoclax is not PBS reimbursed, and ibrutinib will not be reimbursed until 1 December 2017. Conclusion: Testing for del(17p) and TP53 variants identifies high-risk CLL that requires specialist management.