Over the last several decades, there has been a growing appreciation of the importance of nonequilibrial phenomena and transient dynamics in explaining the structure of ecological communities. This paper provides an overview of theoretical themes related to resource pulses. Theoretical models suggest short-term responses to a single pulse can qualitatively differ from longer-term responses. Recurrent resource pulses can alter community structure, permitting coexistence that otherwise would not occur, or hamper coexistence mechanisms effective in stable environments. For a given resource input, system responses can be more dramatic with short pulses. Resource pulses can cause transitions between alternative states. Dispersal permits species to exploit locally sporadic resource pulses and persist in environments that on average are unsuitable. All these issues are ripe for further theoretical explorations.