Abstract Anguillid eels are found globally in fresh, transitional and saline waters and have played an important role in human life for centuries. The population status of several species is now of significant concern. The threats to populations include direct exploitation at different life stages, blockages to migratory routes by dams and other structures, changes in river basin management that impact habitat carrying capacity and suitability, pollution, climate change, diseases and parasites. While much has been done to understand eel biology and ecology, a major challenge is to identify the key research and management questions so that effective and targeted studies can be designed to inform conservation, management and policy. We gathered 30 experts in the field of eel biology and management to review the current state of knowledge for anguillid eel species and to identify the main topics for research. The identified research topics fell into three themes: (a) Lifecycle and Biology; (b) Impacts and (c) Management. Although tropical anguillid eels are by far the least well understood, significant knowledge gaps exist for all species. Considerable progress has been made in the last 20 years, but the status of many species remains of great concern, particularly for northern temperate species. Without improved engagement and coordination at the regional, national and international level, the situation is unlikely to improve. Further, adaptive management mechanisms to respond to developments in science, policy and our knowledge of potential threats are required to ensure the future of these important and enigmatic species.