The “subnational resource curse” refers to the overall negative effects of natural resource wealth in the economy, politics, polity or environment of a subnational area. As the name suggests, the emerging literature that studies this variant of the “natural resource curse” uses subnational units of analysis to examine the processes and effects associated with natural resources (both abundance and dependence of). The literature which examines the characteristics and the causal mechanisms of the subnational resource curse is not conclusive. This special section of The Extractive Industries and Society examines the theory underpinning and empirical evidence in support of the natural resource curse at the subnational level. Specifically, the papers in this special section explore the dynamics of the subnational curse, its potential transmission channels, and policy implications of this phenomenon. The papers profile the impacts of oil and mineral producing areas from different countries across Africa, America, Asia and Europe. They share fresh evidence about the adverse consequences of resource wealth at the subnational level. However, some of the articles also offer more nuanced accounts about the impact of natural resource wealth and evidence that suggests that the effects are shaped by subnational institutional features and contexts.