This article argues that research and educational practices relating to gifted students can highly benefit by linking up more closely with the mainstream of research on learning and instruction. The CLIA-model for the design of powerful learning environments that consists of four interconnected components (Competence, Learning, Intervention, and Assessment) is thereby used as a framework. The kind of learning processes needed to acquire adaptive competence are well in tune with features of exceptional performance, namely active, constructive, self-regulated and goal- oriented learning. Therefore gifted students should be taught in powerful learning environments that induce in them learning processes that embody those characteristics. Interventions focused on gifted students such as acceleration, grouping and differentiated instruction can benefit from taking into account the components and characteristics of the CLIA-model.