Connectivity has emerged in recent years as a significant conceptual framework within which to address the spatial and temporal variability in runoff and sediment transport. This special issue draws together several of the papers that were presented in the session "Connectivity in water and sediment dynamics: how do we move forwards?" at the 2012 General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna, Austria. The papers submitted for this special issue fall into three groups: empirical studies, modelling studies, and conceptual development. Although it may be evident that the concept of connectivity helps us to express the complexity (in terms of water and sediment yields) of landscape responses to rainfall inputs, does it improve our ability to understand or predict those responses? There would still seem to be some way to go in connectivity research before this nagging concern can be assuaged. That it can be will undoubtedly be an important task for a number of ongoing research initiatives.