The management of pleural effusions and, in particular, recurrent MPE require an accurate assessment of the characteristics of the pleural fluid and the relief of the patient's symptoms. Although a common problem, treatment of pleural effusions and MPE is highly variable. Selection of optimal treatment for the individual patient (or population of patients) requires a careful assessment of the benefits and associated risks of the therapy. Pleurodesis is an artificial measure of success that is hospital centered, not patient centered. Because patients with MPE have limited life expectancy, efforts to palliate or eliminate dyspnea, optimize function, eliminate hospitalization, and reduce excessive end-of-life medical care costs may be best achieved with a chronic indwelling pleural catheter. The need for expensive supplies may temper the use of such outpatient management. Alternative techniques of tube thoracostomy, drainage, and sclerosis or thoracoscopy with drainage and talc poudrage also have benefits but are associated with variable hospitalization and increased medical costs.