AbstractCharacterization with neutrons and synchrotron radiation has yielded essential contributions to the research and development of automotive and aerospace materials, processing methods, and components. This review mainly emphasises developments related to commercial passenger airplanes and light-duty cars. Improved and partly new materials for the reduction of airframe weight and joining by laser-beam welding and friction stir welding are ongoing areas of assessment. Chemical reactions, microstructure development, and residual stresses are frequently measured. Polymers and polymer matrix composites often require special experimental techniques. The thrust-to-weight ratio of aero-engines is increasing due to the improved design of components and the use of innovative materials. Investigations on superalloys, γ-TiAl, and thermal barrier coatings are described in some detail. A discussion of the use of neutron and synchrotron diffraction in automotive applications covers the analysis of surface effects with respect to lubricants and wear, as well as the investigation of microstructure development, deformation, and fatigue behavior of materials, welds and components. Special steels, Al and Mg alloys are discussed and residual stresses in automotive components such as gears or crankshafts are described. Applications of characterization methods on membranes for polymeric membrane fuel cells and on nanocrystalline metal hydrides for hydrogen storage are shown. The degradation of railway tracks after long-term use is taken as an example for the application of synchrotron methods to transport systems beyond the commercial aircraft and light duty passenger car.