Quantum information processing rests on our ability to manipulate quantum superpositions through coherent unitary transformations. In reality the quantum information processor (a linear ion trap, or cavity QED implementation for example) exists in a dissipative environment. Dephasing, and other technical sources of noise, as well as more fundamental sources of dissipation severely restrict quantum processing capabilities. The strength of the coherent coupling needed to implement quantum logic is not always independent of dissipation. The limitations these dissipative influences present will be described and the need for efficient error correction noted. Even if long and involved quantum computations turn out to be hard to realize, one can perform interesting manipulations of entanglement involving only a few gates and qubits, of which we give examples. Quantum communication also involves manipulations of entanglement which are simpler to implement than elaborate computations. We briefly analyse the notion of the capacity of a quantum communication channel.