We discuss D-brane instantons in four-dimensional string compactifications with special emphasis on Eucliden D2-branes in Type IIA orientifolds with spacetime filling D6-branes. These can induce superpotential couplings among the open string fields which are forbidden at the perturbative level since they violate some of the global U(1) symmetries generically present in string theory.
Phenomenologcially important couplings of this type include Majorana mass terms for right-handed neutrinos or mu-terms in the Higss sector of the MSSM. If realized in concrete constructions, the exponential suppression of such non-perturbative terms may 'naturally' generate the observed hierarchies characteristic of these couplings.
After discussing the general philosophy, we derive the prescription for the CFT computation of such non-perturbative superpotential couplings and exemplify the computation of Majorana mass terms in toroidal intersecting brane worlds. If time permits, we also comment on D2-instanton effetcs potentially destabilising the vacuum or modifying the D-term supersymmetry conditions.