The authors present a narrative account of case studies of the recoveryof flowing water systems from disturbance, focusing on the investigators' conclusions about recovery time and the factors contributing to recovery. They restrict their attention to case studies in which the recovery of some biological property of the system has been examined, excluding those that deal only with physical or chemical properties. Although natural processes and rates of recovery are emphasized, studies of reclamation or restoration of damaged ecosystems are included where they contribute to an understanding of recovery processes. For the majority of studies examined, the systems recovered quite rapidly. In general, longer recovery times were observed in disturbances, such as channelization, that resulted in alterations to physical conditions. The review also indicates that much of their knowledge if recovery in lotic ecosystems is fragmented and uncoordinated. In addition to establishing the bounds of recovery time, their review identifies some research gaps that need to be filled.