Cases are highly prevalent in teaching and practice in psychology. Case-based research is crucial for engaged and relevant community and applied social psychologies, but is often subject to critique. This editorial responds to such critiques, clarifies various misconceptions regarding this research strategy, and argues for the utility of case-based research. We explore the theoretical basis and implications of case-based research for community action and participative interventions. This special issue offers a collection of articles that showcase the use of a range of methods in case-based research. Contributions include: (i) a conceptual argument regarding the logic of case studies; (ii) a single-person case study; (iii) a group-level case study; (iv) a multi-site case study, (v) a reflection on challenges of participative research, using the action-researcher as the case. These contributions demonstrate how the use of exemplars is crucial for community and applied social psychologists developing knowledge about social issues in complex and diverse societies, with a view to improving the human condition. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.