This paper explores the role of business models for socio-technical transitions, i.e. large-scale changes in the way societal functions are fulfilled. In a first conceptual attempt it integrates research on business models and research on transitions. Using the multi-level perspective on socio-technical transitions we show that business models can impact transitions in their roles as (1) devices to commercialize technological innovation, (2) a dominant business model logic that is part of the current socio-technical regime and (3) niche innovation competing with this dominant business model logic. Our findings theoretically underpin why non-technological innovation, such as business model innovation, has a higher leverage on achieving radical societal shifts than technological innovation. Exploring the role of business models for transitions is of relevance to researchers and practitioners trying to understand the dynamics behind transitions, such as the ones required for a shift towards more sustainable consumption and production.