The assessment of seed vigor has many important implications to the seed industry as a basic monitoring of seed physiological potential during different phases of seed production and a support for strategic decisions regarding the selection of high quality seedlots to meet the consumer demand. The potential attributes of seed vigor as a fundamental physiological seed characteristic and its association with field stand establishment and crop productivity has been worldwide recognized from the 1960s onward. This led to the diversification of research approaches involving the synchronization of different physiological characteristics and events that determine the potential for high performance during seed storage and after sowing. The basic objective of vigor testing is to provide a consistent identification of differences in physiological potential among seedlots of commercial value and this represents a more sensitive parameter than the germination test. There are various procedures to assess seed vigor including those that directly or indirectly evaluate seed metabolic state or identify seed tolerance to specific stress(es). At the same time, in more recent years, new knowledge has come from molecular biology, biotechnology, biophysics and seed and seedling imaging analyses; these approaches has been important complements to traditional seed research.. This text has the purpose to emphasize the role of Brazilian research in seed vigor, whose competence is internationally recognized, and to provide an overview of the evolution of knowledge also attempting to highlight events that contributed to the advancement of research on the subject.