Sustainability oriented innovation and technology studies have received increasing attention over the past 10–15 years. In particular, a new field dealing with "sustainability transitions" has gained ground and reached an output of 60–100 academic papers per year. In this article, we aim to identify the intellectual contours of this emerging field by conducting a review of basic conceptual frameworks, together with bibliographical analysis of 540 journal articles in the field. It is against this background that we position the six papers assembled in a special section in Research Policy. These papers pave the way for new conceptual developments and serve as stepping-stones in the maturation of sustainability transition studies, by linking with the scholarly literatures of management studies, sociology, policy studies, economic geography, and modeling.