Investigations of slow and fast light effects in semiconductor waveguides entail interesting physics and point to a number of promising applications. In this review we give an overview of recent progress in the field, in particular focusing on the physical mechanisms of electromagnetically induced transparency and coherent population oscillations. While electromagnetically induced transparency has been the most important effect in realizing slowdown effects in atomic gasses, progress has been comparatively slow in semiconductors due to inherent problems of fast dephasing times and inhomogeneous broadening in quantum dots. The physics of electromagnetically induced transparency in semiconductors is discussed, emphasizing these limitations and recent suggestions for overcoming them. On the other hand, the mechanism of coherent population oscillations relies on wave mixing effects and is well suited for semiconductor waveguides. Recent experimental progress is reviewed, emphasizing new ideas that have significantly enhanced the degree of control that can be exercised and the frequency range that can be achieved. Thus, applications within microwave photonics appear to be within reach.