Cationic polymerizations induced by thermally and photochemically latent N-benzyl and N-alkoxy pyridinium salts, respectively, are reviewed. N-Benzyl pyridinium salts with a wide range of substituents of phenyl, benzylic carbon and pyridine moiety act as thermally latent catalysts to initiate the cationic polymerization of various monomers. Their initiation activities were evaluated with the emphasis on the structure-activity relationship. The mechanisms of photoinitiation by direct and indirect sensitization of N-alkoxy pyridinium salts are presented. The indirect action can be based on electron transfer reactions between pyridinium salt and (a) photochemically generated free radicals, (b) photoexcited sensitizer, and (c) electron rich compounds in the photoexcited charge transfer complexes. N-Alkoxy pyridinium salts also participate in ascorbate assisted redox reactions to generate reactive species capable of initiating cationic polymerization. The application of pyridinium salts to the synthesis of block copolymers of monomers polymerizable with different mechanisms are described.