The intimate connections between disaster recovery by and the resilience of affected communities have become common features of disaster risk reduction programmes since the adoption of The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015. Increasing attention is now paid to the capacity of disaster-affected communities to ‘bounce back’ or to recover with little or no external assistance following a disaster. This highlights the need for a change in the disaster risk reduction work culture, with stronger emphasis being put on resilience rather than just need or vulnerability. However, varied conceptualisations of resilience pose new philosophical challenges. Yet achieving a consensus on the concept remains a test for disaster research and scholarship. This paper reviews the concept in terms of definitional issues, the role of vulnerability in resilience discourse and its meaning, and the differences between vulnerability and resilience. It concludes with some of the more immediately apparent implications of resilience thinking for the way we view and prepare for disasters.