The population declines of waders in Europe are widely considered to have resulted from habitat loss and degradation due to agricultural changes. However, recent empirical evidence suggests that levels of predation on wader nests are unsustainably high in many cases, even in some situations where breeding habitat is otherwise favourable. We review the published and ‘grey’ literature on nest predation on waders in Europe and quantify the relative importance of the major predators. Nest cameras offer the least biased method of identifying and quantifying nest predators. A small number of camera studies, in combination with others utilizing nest temperature loggers, indicate that nocturnal/mammalian predators make the largest contribution to wader nest predation. More than half of site-years or studies reviewed reported clutch failure rates of over 50% attributable to predation alone, a rate that is likely to be associated with declining populations, although parameters such as chick and adult survival will also affect population trends. Correlates of wader nest predation are documented, with time of season, field type and management, distance to habitat/field edge, wader nest density, and abundance of mammalian predators being most consistently identified. Future directions of research into wader productivity are discussed, and we suggest that studies quantify additional life-history parameters such as chick survival, as well as examining the predator community, wherever possible.