One of the key issues that will determine the success or otherwise of the putative ‘Indo-Pacific region’ is how or whether it is successfully institutionalized. This paper firstly provides an assessment of the Indo-Pacific’s prospects by drawing on some of the more influential strands of theoretical literature in this area and by considering the specific historical experience of its institutional precursors in the more expansively conceived Asia-Pacific region. Although I am skeptical about the Indo-Pacific’s prospects, the following discussion provides a general framework for assessing institutional efficacy. The second objective of this essay is to introduce the other papers in this collection. Significantly, some of the other contributors are more optimistic about the Indo-Pacific. Together, these papers highlight the sometimes competing and contradictory forces of what could still be a very significant initiative in a region in which effective institutions are arguably in short supply.