Despite recent advances in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including the introduction of biologic therapies and employment of combination disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) strategies, remission rates remain suboptimal and patients with RA are still missing a significant number of work days. Early diagnostic criteria are needed to ensure that appropriate treatment is initiated early so as to prevent joint damage. Better prognostic markers are also needed to identify patients with the potential for poor outcomes, in whom more aggressive strategies can be applied at the outset. Because of stringent inclusion criteria and heterogeneous definitions of remission, results seen in clinical trials of RA are not necessarily generalizable to results seen in clinical practice. As a result, existing guidelines may not adequately reflect current practice. In the absence of biomarkers to predict the course of disease, methotrexate remains the standard of care initially for most patients with RA. The ability to predict the course of disease could allow more appropriately targeted therapy and higher rates of remission.