Rooted in the very fundamental aspects of many chemical phenomena, and for the majority of photochemistry, is the onset of strongly interacting electronic configurations. To describe this challenging regime of strong electron correlation, an extraordinary effort has been put forward by a young generation of scientists in the development of theories ‘beyond’ standard wave function and density functional models. Despite their encouraging results, a twenty-and-more-year old approach still stands as the gold standard for these problems: multiconfiguration second-order perturbation theory based on complete active space reference wave function (CASSCF/CASPT2). We will present here a brief overview of the CASSCF/CASPT2 computational protocol, and of its role in our understanding of chemical and photochemical processes. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.