During the 1930s and 1940s the idea of releasing insects of pest species to introduce sterility (sterile insect technique or SIT) into wild populations, and thus control them, was independently conceived in three extremely diverse intellectual environments. The key researchers were A. S. Serebrovskii at Moscow State University, F. L. Vanderplank at a tsetse field research station in rural Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and E. F. Knipling of the United States Department of Agriculture. Serebrovskii’s work on chromosomal translocations for pest population suppression could not succeed in view of T. D. Lysenko’s opposition to Mendelian genetics and the catastrophic conditions in the USSR during World War II, after which he died. Vanderplank used hybrid sterility to suppress a tsetse population in a large field experiment, but lacked the resources to develop this method further. Knipling and his team exploited H. J. Muller’s discovery that ionizing radiation can induce dominant lethal mutations, and after World War II this approach was applied on an area-wide basis to eradicate the New World screwworm Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel) in the USA, Mexico, and Central America. Since then very effective programmes integrating the SIT have been mounted against a number of tropical tephritid fruit fly species, some species of tsetse flies Glossina spp., the pink bollworm Pectinophora gossypiella (Saunders), the codling moth Cydia pomonella (L.), the cactus moth Cactoblastis cactorum (Berg), the painted apple moth Tela anartoides Walker, and the false codling moth Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick). In non-isolated onion fields in the Netherlands, the onion maggot Delia antiqua (Meigen) has since 1981 been suppressed by the SIT. In the 1970s there was much research conducted on mosquito SIT, which then went into “eclipse”, but has been reviving during the last decade; a number of pilot trials are ongoing or in preparation, in conjunction with the Wolbachia-based incompatible insect technique (ITT) against mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti (L.), Ae. albopictus (Skuse), Ae. polynesiensis Marks, and Anopheles arabiensis Patton. Development of the SIT for use against the boll weevil Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman, the horn fly Haematobia irritans (L.) (Eschle et al. 1973), and the gypsy moth Lymantria dispar (L.) has ended, but it is in progress for two sweetpotato weevil species, Cylas formicarius (F.) and Euscepes pos/fasciatus (Fairmaire), the small hive beetle Aethina tumida Murray, the brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys Sthl (Welsh et al. 2017), the navel orangeworm Amyelois transitella (Walker), the African sugarcane borer Eldana saccharina Walker, the European grapevine moth Lobesia botrana (Denis and Schiffermüller), the carob moth Ectomyelois ceratoniae (Zeller), the leafminer Liriomyza bryoniae (Kaltenbach) (Walker 2012) and other greenhouse pests, the Old World screwworm Chrysomya bezziana (Villeneuve), additional Glossina spp., other Anastrepha spp. and Bactrocera spp. fruit flies, and other pests. New technologies and continuous research support for ongoing programmes, including molecular, microbial and information technology approaches, are resulting in improved methodologies and processes, and thus in enhanced cost-effectiveness for all aspects of SIT application.