Searching the literature has a direct, beneficial influence on patient care. The amount of medical scientific information has increased to a great extent, while the development of networking technologies has broadened access to online databases. Successful searches depend upon understanding technical librarianship concepts and the skills for mastering searching interfaces. From a problem-oriented approach, concepts like MEDLINE coverage, PubMed resources, Boolean logic, search strategies, and Web sources for full-text articles are introduced along seven online situations: locating a specific publication, answering a complex clinical question, finding information on a general subject, finding publications by a particular author, finding publications in a particular language, finding a specific publication type, and locating the full-text document. Oncologists should face the challenge of performing their own searches. Specific knowledge is mandatory to avoid frustrating, time-consuming work. The objective of this work is to present concepts, strategies, and skills required for medical literature retrieval, easing the incorporation of new and welcomed practices.