Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGvHD) is induced by immunocompetent alloreactive T lymphocytes in the donor graft responding to polymorphic and non-polymorphic host antigens and causing inflammation in primarily the skin, gastrointestinal tract and liver. aGvHD remains an important toxicity of allogeneic transplantation, and the search for better prophylactic and therapeutic strategies is critical to improve transplant outcomes. In this review, we discuss the significant translational and clinical advances in the field which have evolved based on a better understanding of transplant immunology. Prophylactic advances have been primarily focused on the depletion of T lymphocytes and modulation of T-cell activation, proliferation, effector and regulatory functions. Therapeutic strategies beyond corticosteroids have focused on inhibiting key cytokine pathways, lymphocyte trafficking, and immunologic tolerance. We also briefly discuss important future trends in the field, the role of the intestinal microbiome and dysbiosis, as well as prognostic biomarkers for aGvHD which may improve stratification-based application of preventive and therapeutic strategies.