The workshop of the Association for Public Economic Theory on behavioral and experimental public economics was held at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Université de Lyon, from June 24 to June 26, 2008. Thirty papers were presented in addition to keynotes by Charlie Plott and John List. The focus of the workshop was to test theoretical models using experimental methods to increase our understanding of the efficiency of mechanisms supporting the provision of public goods, social cooperation, and voting systems. This special issue aims at showing how lively and diversified the ongoing experimental research in public economics has come to be. We highlight three topics in particular: the power of voting and legal enforcement systems, the efficiency of various institutions to support cooperation in social dilemma games, and auctions.