Although there were some accounts of the history of sport in Russia in the early twentieth century, it was not until the early Soviet period that scholarly research began in earnest. The first extensive works on the subject in Western languages appeared at the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s. In the U.S.S.R. the majority of publications came from higher education sports institutions and predominantly promoted Soviet physical culture and the legitimization of the system. This article focuses on three main research topics: the beginnings of sports and modernization in late Imperial Russia; sport and physical culture as an element of the Soviet way of life; and Cold War politics and Soviet sports. Although a considerable number of studies appeared both in the U.S.S.R. and in the West from the 1970s on, the most significant contributions have come in recent decades. Not only has historical research in post-Soviet Russia and in the West been freed from ideological pressure, but this period has also witnessed the rise of cultural history and a concomitant increase in research on sports as a cultural practice.