Effective population size (Ne) is a key parameter in population genetics. It has important applications in evolutionary biology, conservation genetics and plant and animal breeding, because it measures the rates of genetic drift and inbreeding and affects the efficacy of systematic evolutionary forces, such as mutation, selection and migration. We review the developments in predictive equations and estimation methodologies of effective size. In the prediction part, we focus on the equations for populations with different modes of reproduction, for populations under selection for unlinked or linked loci and for the specific applications to conservation genetics. In the estimation part, we focus on methods developed for estimating the current or recent effective size from molecular marker or sequence data. We discuss some underdeveloped areas in predicting and estimating Ne for future research.