Cardiogenic shock is an acute emergency, which is classically managed by medical support with inotropes or vasopressors and frequently requires invasive ventilation. However, both catecholamines and ventilation are associated with a worse prognosis, and many patients deteriorate despite all efforts. Mechanical circulatory support is increasingly considered to allow for recovery or to bridge until making a decision or definite treatment. Of all devices, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is the most widely used. Here we review features and strategical considerations for the use of ECMO in cardiogenic shock and cardiac arrest.