||This review article aims to provide an updated and comprehensive description of the development of the Electric Current Activated/assisted Sintering technique (ECAS) for the obtainment of dense materials including nanostructured ones. The use of ECAS for pure sintering purposes, when starting from already synthesized powders promoters, and to obtain the desired material by simultaneously performing synthesis and consolidation in one-step is reviewed. Specifically,more than a thousand papers published on this subject during the past decades are taken into account. The experimental procedures, formation mechanisms, characteristics, and functionality of a wide spectrum of dense materials fabricated by ECAS are presented. The influence of the most important operating parameters (i.e. current intensity, temperature, processing time, etc.) on product characteristics and process dynamics is reviewed for a large family of materials including ceramics, intermetallics, metal–ceramic and ceramic–ceramic composites. In this review, systems where synthesis and densification stages occur simultaneously, i.e. a fully dense product is formed immediately after reaction completion, as well as those ones for which a satisfactory densification degree is reached only by maintaining the application of the electric current once the full reaction conversion is obtained, are identified. In addition, emphasis is given to the obtainment of nanostructured dense materials due to their rapid progress and wide applications. Specifically, the effect of mechanical activation by ball milling of starting powders on ECAS process dynamics and product characteristics (i.e. density and microstructure) is analysed. The emerging theme from the large majority of the reviewed investigations is the comparison of ECAS over conventional methods including pressureless sintering, hot pressing, and others. Theoretical analysis pertaining to such technique is also proposed following the last results obtained on this topic.