Lichens are symbiotic organisms that often dominate stressful environments such as the surfaces of rock and tree bark. Whether or not competition occurs between lichens in these environments, however, is controversial. This review considers various aspects of the competitive interactions between lichens including the observational studies that suggest competitive effects may be important, the methods that have been used to study lichen competition in the field, the result of marginal contacts between lichen thalli, the attributes that may give a species a competitive advantage, and the role of competition in structuring lichen communities. These studies suggest that competition for space and light does occur in lichen communities and that individual lichen species can be excluded from a substratum as a result of competition. Moreover, competitive interactions in multi-species communities can also lead to stable assemblages of species. Future research should consider those aspects of the lichen symbiosis that may confer a competitive advantage and the factors that may promote stability in multi-species communities. Studies of competition in lichen communities may have implications for other stressful environments in which symbiotic organisms play a significant role.