Participatory design (PD) research has historically strongly focused on the reporting of design events (e.g. workshops and prototyping activities with participants), where issues such as ‘involving users’, including the users’ point of view, and participation as a matter of mutual learning have been in the foreground. The need to further problematise and critically examine participation is nonetheless apparent. This special issue aims to shed light on participation as it unfolds over time during, between and beyond participatory events such as these. Here, we build an overview of existing directions taken by researchers to address the unfolding of participation in IT design over time. We do this by examining existing PD literature and the four contributions to this special issue. We identify two common temporalities in PD, the future-oriented and the project-based, and propose five lenses that may aid researchers in exploring and understanding the temporal dimensions of participation in their projects: the phasic, emergent, retrospective, prospective and longterm lenses. We end with propositions and opportunities for future research directions in PD, highlighting the multi-faceted nature of the temporality of participation.