Cardiogenic shock (CS) is a challenging syndrome, associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Although pharmacological therapies are successful and can successfully control this acute cardiac illness, some patients remain refractory to drugs. Therefore, a more aggressive treatment strategy is needed. Temporary mechanical circulatory support (TCS) can be used to stabilise patients with decompensated heart failure. In the last two decades, the increased use of TCS has led to several kinds of devices becoming available. However, indications for TCS and device selection are part of a complex process. It is necessary to evaluate the severity of CS, any early and prompt haemodynamic resuscitation, prior TCS, specific patient risk factors, technical limitations and adequacy of resources and training, as well as an assessment of whether care would be futile. This article examines options for commonly used TCS devices, including intra-aortic balloon pumps, a pulsatile percutaneous ventricular assist device (the iVAC), veno-arterial extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation and Impella (Abiomed) and TandemHeart (LivaNova) percutaneous ventricular assist device.