The developments of late capitalism characterized by the tendency of increased interventionary role of the state in the economy together with the crisis of advanced capitalism have focused attention on the need for an adequate understanding of the theory and practice of the contemporary capitalist state. In an effort to develop an adequate theory of the capitalist state, the works of Ralph Miliband and Nicos Poulantzas have contributed to the advancement of Marxist political analysis. Poulantzas's work ,which became the center of contemporary Marxist social theory, provides us with a fully developed theory of the state. His regional theory of the "political instance" , together with Miliband's theorizing on the state and his empirical analysis of the normative behaviour of the contemporary state are expounded and critically examined in this study. The focus of our analysis is on the role of the state, its institutional composition, and the functions it performs in contemporary capitalist social formations. The critique of Miliband and Poulantzas's work on the state is advanced at the theoretical and empirical levels.