Diverse cell biological processes that involve shaping and remodeling of cell membranes are regulated by membrane lateral tension. Here we focus on the role of tension in driving membrane fusion. We discuss the physics of membrane tension, forces that can generate the tension in plasma membrane of a cell, and the hypothesis that tension powers expansion of membrane fusion pores in late stages of cell-to-cell and exocytotic fusion. We propose that fusion pore expansion can require unusually large membrane tensions or, alternatively, low line tensions of the pore resulting from accumulation in the pore rim of membrane-bending proteins. Increase of the inter-membrane distance facilitates the reaction.