Annales de la Faculté des Sciences de Toulouse. Mathématiques vol:no special Stieltjes pages:195-215
In a note at the end of his paper "Recherches sur les fractions continues", Stieltjes gave a necessary and sufficient condition when a continued fraction is represented by a meromorphic function. This result is related to the study of compact Jacobi matrices. We indicate how this notion was developped and used since Stieltjes, with special attention to the results of M.G. Krein. We also pay attention to the perturbation of a constant Jacobi matrix by a compact Jacobi matrix, work which basically started with Blumenthal in 1889 and which is now known as the theory for the class M(a,b).