Over the last 50 years the large-eddy simulation (LES) technique has developed into one of the most prominent numerical tools used to study transport processes in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). This review examines development of the technique as a tool for ABL research, integration with state-of-the-art scientific computing resources, and some key application areas. Analysis of the published literature indicates that LES research across a broad range of applications accelerated starting around 1990. From that point in time, robust research using LES developed in several different application areas and based on a review of the papers published in this journal, we identify seven major areas of intensive ABL–LES research: convective boundary layers, stable boundary layers, transitional boundary layers, plant canopy flows, urban meteorology and dispersion, surface heterogeneity, and the testing and development of subgrid-scale (SGS) models. We begin with a general overview of LES and then proceed to examine the SGS models developed for use in ABL–LES. After this overview of the technique itself, we review the specific model developments tailored to the identified application areas and the scientific advancements realized using the LES technique in each area. We conclude by examining the computational trends in published ABL–LES research and identify some resource underutilization. Future directions and research needs are identified from a synthesis of the reviewed literature.