Over the past two decades, the use of well-validated, guideline-based strategies resulted in high cure rates in patients with germ-cell cancer (GCC) often despite widespread metastatic disease at initial presentation. Yet, about 30 % of patients diagnosed with metastatic disease corresponding to about 5-10 % of GCC patients overall will experience disease progression or recurrence at some time point of their disease with the need for salvage treatment. Salvage treatment is more complex and less well validated than first-line treatment: Its rare patient cohorts are more heterogeneous and prognostic factors impact more compared to other treatment scenarios. In patients with metastatic GCC, there are several scenarios in which first-line treatment strategies can fail (Fig. 1). Prior to initiation of any salvage treatment, several considerations have to be made, which will be addressed in this review: verification that first-line treatment has indeed failed, estimation of the adequacy and the effectiveness of first-line treatment, search for metastatic sites and extent of disease recurrence, assessment of known prognostic factors and finally the choice of the optimal salvage strategy taking into account the aforementioned variables. High-dose chemotherapy will be a rational choice for many patients in need of salvage treatment, but careful patient selection will be required to avoid overtreatment and unnecessary long-term toxicity.