Ruxolitinib improves splenomegaly and other disease-related symptoms in patients with myelofibrosis, but over time, many patients lose this benefit. It is difficult to determine whether this is due to resistance or intolerance to the drug; thus, we have used the more inclusive term of ruxolitinib failure. The survival of patients with myelofibrosis after ruxolitinib failure is poor but varies significantly by the pattern of the failure, underlining the need for a clinically appropriate classification. In this review, we propose diagnostic guidance for early recognition of the pattern of ruxolitinib failure and we recommend treatment options. The most frequent patterns of ruxolitinib failure are loss or failure to obtain a significant reduction in splenomegaly or symptom response, and the development or persistence of clinically significant cytopenias. Ruxolitinib dose modification and other ancillary therapies are sometimes helpful, and splenectomy is a palliative option in selected cases. Stem-cell transplantation is the only curative option for these patterns of failure, but its restricted applicability due to toxicity highlights the importance of ongoing clinical trials in this area. Recent approval of fedratinib by the US Food and Drug Administration provides an alternative option for patients with suboptimal or loss of spleen response. The transformation of myelofibrosis to accelerated or blast phase is an infrequent form of failure with an extremely poor prognosis, whereby patients who are ineligible for transplantation have limited treatment options.