Gateway cities connect vast hinterlands to the outside world, being vital for our highly globalised and networked society. Studying them complements the understanding of urban nodes in global networks from the world city literature because it draws attention to the diversity of these nodes and city-to-hinterland relations. This article first discusses which features mark gateway cities. Logistics, industrial processing, knowledge generation and perhaps other dimensions of global interlinking should be taken into consideration – in addition to corporate control and corporate services. Second, the article sheds light on the impact of gateway cities upon regional development. Whilst some argue that gateways are a filter to economic gains and thus reduce the prospects of their hinterlands, others suggest that they may serve as engines of growth, transmitting impulses to subordinate locations. The author then elaborates on dynamics at the urban scale. He contends that there is need for research on cities (or organisations from there) as actors that resort to, for example, urban branding to become a gateway or reinforce this status. Research along these lines must also address the dark side of urban branding, most importantly the sharp divide between globalised and sidelined urban districts.