Poplar has many advantages as a short-rotation coppice (SRC) crop, i.e. rapid juvenile growth rates, good coppice and resprout ability, and easy vegetative propagation. Further, a large genetic variation available within the genus can be explored in breeding programmes aiming at improving the poplar plant material in terms of yield, wood quality and resistance against disease and insect attacks. Besides, the strong scientific support turned poplar into the “guinea pig” in tree research which recently led – as first for a tree species – to the release of its relatively small genome sequence. Hence, traditional poplar breeding programmes may be further improved by means of molecular genetic techniques, with particular attention to the deployment of poplar in SRC.