Several non-redundant features of the tumour microenvironment facilitate immunosuppression and limit anticancer immune responses. These include physical barriers to immune infiltration, the recruitment of suppressive immune cells and the upregulation of ligands on tumour cells that bind to inhibitory receptors on immune cells. Recent insights into the importance of the metabolic restrictions imposed by the tumour microenvironment on antitumour T cells have begun to inform immunotherapeutic anticancer strategies. Therapeutics that target metabolic restrictions, such as low glucose levels, a low pH, hypoxia and the generation of suppressive metabolites, have shown promise as combination therapies for different types of cancer. In this Review, we discuss the metabolic aspects of the antitumour T cell response in the context of immune checkpoint blockade, adoptive cell therapy and treatment with oncolytic viruses, and discuss emerging combination strategies.