Contraception following delivery or an induced abortion reduces the risk of an early unintended pregnancy and its adverse health consequences. Unmet need for contraception during the postpartum period and contraceptive counseling and services following abortion have been the focus of research and programs for the last several decades. This overview provides an introduction to this special issue. We discuss the validity and measurement of unmet need for family planning during the postpartum period. We then present key findings on postpartum contraceptive protection and method mix and assess interventions to improve postpartum family planning. The evidence on postabortion contraceptive acceptance and continuation remains thin, although encouraging results are noted for implementation of comprehensive abortion care and for the impact of postabortion contraceptive counseling and services. Drawing on these studies, we outline policy and program implications for improving postpartum and postabortion contraceptive use.