This article sets out to make an assessment of the relationship between Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and economic growth in transition countries through a review of the empirical record to date. The first part reviews the phases of transition in combination with policy efforts to attract FDI. In the second part, different growth studies across levels of analysis are juxtaposed to better understand the overall growth impact of FDI in transition countries. Since foreign firms have a large direct effect on performance at the level of the firm it is often assumed that they automatically contribute to the economic growth of host countries. The missing link in this discussion is the concept of ‘trickle down’. Superior direct effects in terms of productivity and profitability are hypothesised to trickle down to the host country both as spillovers, or catalysing effects on local firms, and through the expected increase in income that such direct and indirect effects in combination will generate through labour income and taxes. The review shows that such trickle down effects are quite fragile in terms of being demonstrated to exist in transition countries. Combined with widespread usage of tax holidays, subsidies and acquisition discounts, it is not certain that positive direct effects equate with economic growth in these countries.