The article provides a thematic and theoretically informed introduction into this EJEAS issue on East Asian regionalism. Its point of departure is the obvious paralysis of East Asian regionalism during and after the Asian financial crisis. It examines as to what extent the subsequent efforts towards damage control and revitalization have lead to a re-invention of East Asian regional institutions as frequently urged in the region. By reviewing the more recent literature and the contributions assembled in the issue, the article notes that despite the crisis the trend towards institutionalist and constructivist theoretical approaches continues. These approaches however often tend to exhibit a certain cooperative bias which may blur the proclivity of foreign policy-makers in the region for political realism. Subsequent sections examine the cohesion of regional institutions and horizontal institutional differentiation. The article concludes that despite a proliferation of regional institutions, there has been no marked deepening of regional groupings and that regime building, as a approach to the management of inter-dependence, has not made noteworthy progress in a broad array of policy areas contending with border-crossing policy problems.