In this paper we argue that the fledgling field of project and program governance has the potential to make a major scholarly and practical contribution. One that not only has the potential to mainstream project management within the broader business and management field, but to also cement its place as a dominant voice in the successful governance of the strategic intentions of organizations, societies, and nations. With this argument in mind three themes organize present discussion in this issue of International Journal of Project Management: the first concerns how we should make sense of governance, something that is clarified through a review of the current state of play in the literature; the second theme comprises papers that report research conducted on governance in projects, using insights from surveys, case studies and other systematic forms of empirical observation. The third theme focuses on theoretical models of governance, ranging from distributed knowledge management and learning perspectives on project governance to systems engineering approaches. While we do not claim that this issue is exhaustive, we do believe it provides a sign post about the current state of play, and the potential future of governance in project and program management as a mainstream domain of research, theory and practice.