This paper explicates the key mechanisms and research themes of industry life-cycle theory and assesses the extent to which empirical evidence supports such an approach. It is based on a review of 216 industry life-cycle studies. The review of the theory is organized around industry emergence and transition to industry maturity. The key research themes concern changes in industry structure, changes in the nature of innovation, and the determinants of survival. Three potential special cases, i.e. services, complex products and systems, and cultural industries, are identified, and five research questions for future enquiry are presented.