This article describes the central role played by conceptions of truth in critical IR scholarship. Two broad positions are identified. Firstly, despite their differences, Critical Theorists and post-structuralists understand truth in intersubjective terms, and its political significance as arising from its relationship to the norms and practices constitutive of political reality. In contrast, Critical Realists understand truth in terms of the cognitive relationship of subjects with an independent objective reality, and its significance as arising from the importance of accurate knowledge of that reality. The article suggests that each of these positions blocks the legitimate insights of the other. It argues that a way out of the resultant impasse can be found in Theodor Adorno’s theory of truth, in which a concern with the primacy of the objective is coupled with an insistence on the connection between truth and human needs.