Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) are rare cells originated from tumors that travel into the blood stream, extravasate to different organs of which only a small fraction will develop into metastasis. The presence of CTC enumerated with the CellSearch system is associated with a relative short survival and their continued presence after the first cycles of therapy indicates a futile therapy in patients with metastatic carcinomas. Detailed characterization of CTC holds the promise to enable the choice of the optimal therapy for the individual patients during the course of the disease. The phenotype, physical and biological properties are however not well understood making it difficult to assess the merit of recent technological advancements to improve upon the capture of CTC or to evaluate their metastatic potential. Here we will discuss the recent advances in the classification of CTC captured by the CellSearch system, the implications of their features and numbers. Latest capture platforms are reviewed and placed in the light of technology improvements needed to detect CTC. Physical properties, phenotype, viability and proliferative potential and means to assess their proliferation and metastatic capacity will be summarized and placed in the context of the latest CTC capture platforms.