Anaerobic wastewater treatment (AnWT) is considered as the most cost-effective solution for organically polluted industrial waste streams. Particularly the development of high-rate systems, in which hydraulic retention times are uncoupled from solids retention times, has led to a world-wide acceptance of AnWT. In the last decade up to the present, the application potentials of AnWT are further explored. Research shows the feasibility of anaerobic reactors under extreme conditions, such as low and high temperatures. Also toxic and/or recalcitrant wastewaters, that were previously believed not to be suitable for anaerobic processes, are now effectively treated. The recent advances are made possible by adapting the conventional anaerobic high-rate concept to the more extreme conditions. Staged anaerobic reactor concepts show advantages under non-optimal temperature conditions as well as during the treatment of chemical wastewater. In other situations, a staged anaerobic - aerobic approach is required for biodegradation of specific pollutants, e.g. the removal of dyes from textile processing wastewaters. The current paper illustrates the benefits or reactor staging and the yet un-exploited potentials of high-rate AnWT.