The success of primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is often hampered by incomplete microvascular myocardial reperfusion owing to distal embolization of thrombus resulting in microvascular obstruction. To address this problem, thrombus aspiration devices have been developed that can be used to evacuate coronary thrombus either manually or mechanically. Thrombus aspiration has the potential to reduce the local thrombus load, minimize the need for balloon predilatation, facilitate direct stenting, prevent distal embolization, and ultimately improve myocardial reperfusion. Furthermore, thrombus aspiration has enabled us to study coronary thrombus in vivo, and has facilitated recognition of distinct mechanisms of coronary thrombosis. Clinical trials focusing on manual thrombus aspiration in primary PCI have generally shown improved myocardial reperfusion. However, in two large trials powered for clinical end points, no reduction in 1-year mortality or other adverse clinical events was observed with the use of this strategy. Moreover, one of these trials showed a marginally increased risk of stroke. Consequently, current guidelines do not recommend routine use of thrombus aspiration. Future studies should focus on the identification of subgroups of patients with STEMI who might derive benefit from manual thrombus aspiration, and establish the effect of operator performance on the efficacy and safety of the procedure.