Abstract. The results of previous studies concerning spontaneous vegetation succession in various man-made or disturbed habitats in Central Europe are discussed in relation to restoration ecology. An attempt is made to answer the main questions which are important to restoration programs. These concern the rate and direction of succession; participation of target species and communities, woody species, ruderals and aliens; arresting or diverting succession; changes in species diversity; variability of successional pathways and the role of abiotic environmental conditions. The great potential for using successional theory in restoration programs is emphasized.