In this paper, we review the different definitions of resilience and their potential application in explaining the long-term development of urban and regional economies. We reject equilibrist versions of resilience and argue instead that we should seek an understanding of the concept from an evolutionary perspective. After discussing a number of such perspectives, we focus on the adaptive cycle model from panarchy theory to generate testable hypotheses concerning urban and regional resilience. Two case study city-regional economies are used to explore this model. We conclude that the evolutionary adaptive cycle model, though not without problems, warrants further study as a framework for analysing regional economic resilience. Copyright 2009, Oxford University Press.