The similarities and differences between optical novae and transient X-ray novae are discussed. Both classes almost certainly require a semi-detached binary structure. Present theoretical models of classical novae account for the outburst in terms of a nuclear burning runaway in the accreted material on the white dwarf within a semi-detached binary system. In the case of the dwarf novae and the transient X-ray sources, unstable accretion events are the generally accepted model. Mechanisms that could generate unstable accretion events are described.