Ever since the 1990s, social capital has attracted attention from social science researchers. With its focus on the importance of intangible resources such as trust, social capital appeared to supplement existing theories of social and economic change. For its early proponents such as Bourdieu, Coleman and more famously, Putnam, social capital could be understood as a critical component in social reproduction, educational achievement and administrative efficiency. Social capital seems especially relevant in Central and Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Not only does it direct attention to informal networks as ways of getting things done, it also explores how strong ties of personal trust co-exist with low levels of general trust and how this can affect economic and political reform. In terms of its actual policy implications, the conclusions of social capital research have not always been clear and it may be fair to say that expectations have been scaled down since the World Bank declared that social capital to be the missing link. This study offers a critical review of over seventy studies that have applied social capital to developments in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The author draws from a variety of social science disciplines as well as including several reports from international organizations. The review investigates five principal fields in which social capital has been used to date and to provides a series of suggestions as to how such research can help encourage institutional and policy innovation.