Saproxylic insect assemblages inhabiting dead wood in Canadian forests are highly diverse and variable but quite poorly understood. Adequate assessment of these assemblages poses significant challenges with respect to sampling, taxonomy, and analysis. Their assessment is nonetheless critical to attaining the broad goals of sustainable forest management because such species are disproportionately threatened elsewhere by the reductions in dead wood generally associated with commercial exploitation of northern forests. The composition of the saproxylic fauna is influenced by many factors, including tree species, degree of decay, stand age, and cause of tree death. Wildfire and forest harvesting have differential impacts on saproxylic insect assemblages and on their recovery in postdisturbance stands. Exploration of saproxylic insect responses to variable retention harvesting and experimental burns is contributing to the development of prescriptions for conserving saproxylic insects in boreal forests. Understanding of processes that determine diversity patterns and responses of saproxylic insects would benefit from increased attention to natural history. Such work should aim to provide a habitat-classification system for dead wood to better identify habitats (and associated species) at risk as a result of forest management. This tool could also be used to improve strategies to better maintain saproxylic organisms and their central nutrient-cycling functions in managed forests.