Policies to stimulate export growth and diversify the composition of exports in South Africa are now high on the government’s agenda. In order to understand exporting and its impact on job creation, one needs to understand how firms function, what determines, or constrains, exporting at the firm level and the links between export behaviour and labour demand. An understanding of these relationships, particularly over time, is also essential for the implementation and evaluation of export related policies. This paper reviews the evidence on South African exporting firms, highlighting what we know, and what we do not know. A key conclusion is that our understanding of firm level export behaviour is severely constrained by the lack of adequate firm data, particularly panel data.