Thermal therapy is widely known and electromagnetic (EM) energy, ultrasonic waves, and other thermal-conduction-based devices have been used as heating sources. In particular, advances in EM technology have paved the way for promising trends in thermotherapeutical applications such as oncology, physiotherapy, urology, cardiology, ophthalmology, and in other areas of medicine as well. This series of articles is generally written for oncologists, cancer researchers, medical students, biomedical researchers, clinicians, and others who have an interest in this topic. This article reviews key processes and developments in thermal therapy with emphasis on two techniques, namely, hyperthermia [including long-term low-temperature hyperthermia (40-41 degrees C for 6-72 hr), moderate-temperature hyperthermia (42-45 degrees C for 15-60 min), and thermal ablation, or high-temperature hyperthermia (> 50 degrees C for > 4-6 min)]. The article will also provide an overview of a wide range of possible mechanisms and biological effects of heat. This information will be discussed in light of what is known about the degree of temperature rise that is expected from various sources of energy. The review concludes with an evaluation of human exposure risk to EM energy or the corresponding heat, trends in equipment development, and future research directions.