The Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, in December 1978, will rank as one of the most significant milestones in the Party’s history. Its influence appears likely to equal, and perhaps in the long run transcend, other crucial turning-points, such as the Zunyi meeting of January 1935, or the Central endorsement of the Cultural Revolution at the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee in August 1966. For it was the Third Plenum which announced the basic reorientation of the Party away from its former role of promoting and guiding revolutionary change in Chinese society, culminating and giving new impetus to a process which had been in train since the downfall of the so-called ‘Gang of Four’. This chapter will consider the major contours of this transformation through analysis of the changes in the prescribed relationship between Party and revolution, the role of revolutionary theory and ideological leadership, the operations of Party organisations, cadre policy, and the Party’s leadership of the masses.