The local state, and more broadly the logic of the local, remains divorced from accounts of urban governance. Addressing this omission, this article examines how a focus on the local opens up new avenues of enquiry in urban governance. It first discusses the interactions of the 'urban' and the 'local', analysing the significance of both to an understanding of neoliberalism in action. It then evaluates the opportunities and challenges that emerge from the multiple interplays of the 'local' and the 'urban', setting out five focal points for the exploration of the local: understandings of 'crisis'; politics, meaning and affect; agency and regulatory intermediaries; the turn to practice; and place and comparison. The article concludes by calling for the study of local practices, in ways that recognise the multiple logics at play in different conjunctures, and the spaces such ambiguities and 'messiness' open up for different forms of situated agency.