The paper analyses the role of litigation as a strategy to fulfil the social rights laid down in the South African constitution. Critically examining litigation as a means to bring the constitutional provisions to life, it explores how different aspects of the social, political and legal context condition the litigation process. Focus is on the social rights cases that the South African Constitutional Court has decided over the past decade. Comparative perspectives set the South Africa experience in relief, and inform the theoretical framework structuring the analysis. By systematically examining the South African experience, the aim is to shed light on what has been achieved through social rights litigation; what has facilitated these achievements; and future prospects for social rights litigation in South Africa. Furthermore, it aims to extract some general insights into the potential and limits of litigation as a strategy for advancing social rights.