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This paper summarizes the main achievements of the RFX fusion science program in the period between the 2008 and 2010 IAEA Fusion Energy Conferences. RFX-mod is the largest reversed field pinch in the world, equipped with a system of 192 coils for active control of MHD stability. The discovery and understanding of helical states with electron internal transport barriers and core electron temperature > 1.5 keV significantly advances the perspectives of the configuration. Optimized experiments with plasma current up to 1.8 MA have been realized, confirming positive scaling. The first evidence of edge transport barriers is presented. Progress has been made also in the control of first-wall properties and of density profiles, with initial first-wall lithization experiments. Micro-turbulence mechanisms such as ion temperature gradient and micro-tearing are discussed in the framework of understanding gradient-driven transport in low magnetic chaos helical regimes. Both tearing mode and resistive wall mode active control have been optimized and experimental data have been used to benchmark numerical codes. The RFX programme also provides important results for the fusion community and in particular for tokamaks and stellarators on feedback control of MHD stability and on three-dimensional physics. On the latter topic, the result of the application of stellarator codes to describe three-dimensional reversed field pinch physics will be presented.