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his talk summarizes the recent developments in the evaluation of the leading order hadronic contributions to the running of the QED f\/ine structure constant \aqed, at $s=M_{\rm Z}^2$, and to the anomalous magnetic moment of the muon $(g-2)_\mu$. The accuracy of the theoretical prediction of these observables is limited by the uncertainties on the hadronic contributions. Signif\/icant improvement has been achieved in a series of new analyses which is presented historically in three steps: (I), use of $\tau$ spectral functions in addition to \eee\ cross sections, (II), extended use of perturbative QCD and (III), application of QCD sum rule techniques. The most precise values obtained are: \daqedhZ\,$=(276.3\pm1.6)\times10^{-4}$, yielding $\alpha^{-1}(M_{\rm Z}^2)=128.933\pm0.021$, and $a_\mu^{\rm had}=(692.4\pm6.2)\times 10^{-10}$ with ...
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