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Pulsed power is a technology that is suited to drive electrical loads requiring very large power pulses in short bursts (high-peak power). Certain applications require technology that can be deployed in small spaces under stressful environments, e.g., on a ship, vehicle, or aircraft. In 2001, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) launched a long-range (five-year) Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) to study fundamental issues for compact pulsed power. This research program is endeavoring to: 1) introduce new materials for use in pulsed power systems; 2) examine alternative topologies for compact pulse generation; 3) study pulsed power switches, including pseudospark switches; and 4) investigate the basic physics related to the generation of pulsed power, such as the behavior of liquid dielectrics under intense electric field conditions. Furthermore, the integration of all of these building blocks is impacted by system architecture (how things are put together). This paper reviews the advances put forth to date by the researchers in this program and will assess the potential impact for future development of compact pulsed power systems.