This article presents a review of the state of the art and present status of active aeroelastic rotor control research for wind turbines. Using advanced control concepts to reduce loads on the rotor can offer great reduction to the total cost of wind turbines. With the increasing size of wind turbine blades, the need for more sophisticated load control techniques has induced the interest for locally distributed aerodynamic control systems with build-in intelligence on the blades. Such concepts are often named in popular terms ‘smart structures’ or ‘smart rotor control’. The review covers the full span of the subject, starting from the need for more advanced control systems emerging from the operating conditions of modern wind turbines and current load reduction control capabilities. An overview of available knowledge and up-to date progress in application of active aerodynamic control is provided, starting from concepts, methods and achieved results in aerospace and helicopter research. Moreover, a thorough analysis on different concepts for smart rotor control applications for wind turbines is performed, evaluating available options for aerodynamic control surfaces, actuators (including smart materials), sensors and control techniques. Next, feasibility studies for wind turbine applications, preliminary performance evaluation and novel computational and experimental research approaches are reviewed. The potential of load reduction using smart rotor control concepts is shown and key issues are discussed. Finally, existing knowledge and future requirements on modeling issues of smart wind turbine rotors are discussed. This study provides an overview of smart rotor control for wind turbines, discusses feasibility of future implementation, quantifies key parameters and shows the challenges associated with such an approach.