What Is the Russell 2000 Index?

What Is the Russell 2000 Index?

4 Min.

The Russell 2000 index is a market index that includes 2,000 small-cap companies. It was created by the Frank Russell Company in 1984 and is currently managed by FTSE Russell. This index is commonly used as a benchmark for evaluating the performance of small-cap mutual funds. According to many investors, the extensive range of the index makes it more advantageous than smaller indexes of small-cap stocks. To match the returns of the Russell 2000 Index, investors can invest in an index-based mutual fund or exchange-traded fund that follows the index.


The Russell 2000 Index, overseen by the FTSE Russell Group in London, is a stock market benchmark that gauges the performance of 2,000 lesser-sized enterprises within the expansive Russell 3000 Index. This index holds significant importance in economic indicators in the United States, given its concentration on small businesses operating exclusively within the U.S. market.

Investors frequently evaluate the performance of small-cap mutual funds against the movements of the Russell 2000 Index. This is because the index provides a more comprehensive representation of the opportunities within this market segment, unlike narrower indices that may exhibit biases or greater stock-specific risks capable of skewing performance outcomes.

Exploring the Russell 2000 Index

Introduced in 1984 by the Frank Russell Company, the Russell 2000 Index is a U.S.-based benchmark managed by FTSE Russell, a London Stock Exchange (LSE) Group subsidiary. This index comprises 2,000 small-cap companies.

This index is widely recognized as a key indicator of small to mid-cap stock performance, encompassing around 7% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 3000. It is formed by selecting companies that fall within the bottom two-thirds of the Russell 3000 in size. The larger Russell 3000 index, in turn, tracks the movements of nearly 98% of all publicly traded U.S. stocks.

As of 2023, the index's top holdings include Super Micro Computer, Shockwave Medical, and Inspire Medical Systems, with its highest sector weightage in healthcare, followed by industrials and financials. Mutual fund investors favor the Russell 2000 Index because it represents the overall market opportunity rather than narrower indices, which may introduce bias or stock-specific risks impacting fund manager performance. Consequently, numerous mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are linked to or based on the Russell 2000.

Russell 2000: Key Statistics 

As of 2023, the Russell 2000 exhibited an average company value of $2.96 billion, with a median market capitalization of $0.93 billion. The index's largest stock boasted a market cap of $12.01 billion. On May 20, 2013, the Russell 2000 crossed the 1,000 level threshold for the first time.

The Russell 2000 offers two sub-indices tailored to specific investor preferences:

  1. Russell 2000 Growth Index: This index tracks the performance of Russell 2000 companies characterized by higher price-to-value ratios and greater projected growth prospects.
  2. Russell 2000 Value Index: Focusing on Russell 2000 companies with lower price-to-book (P/B) ratios and reduced forecasted growth values, this index assesses their performance.

The Russell 1000 Microcap Index comprises the smallest 1,000 firms within the Russell 2000. Notably, the Russell 2000 itself comprises the 2,000 smallest entities within the extensive Russell 3000 Index.

Russell 2000 Index: Weighting and Accessibility 

The Russell 2000 Index employs a market cap-weighted methodology adjusted for each company's outstanding shares. This design ensures that the index's composition is influenced by both a member stock's last sale price and its tradable shares rather than relying solely on the company's overall market capitalization.

A fundamental distinction between the Russell 2000 and other prominent indices lies in its focus on small-cap stocks. In contrast, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) primarily track large-cap equities.

While investors can replicate the index's returns through a complex portfolio mirroring its composition, more straightforward alternatives exist. Investors seeking exposure to the Russell 2000 can do so through index-tracking ETFs like BlackRock's iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) or Vanguard's Russell 2000 ETF (VTWO). Additionally, there are multiple Russell 2000 index mutual funds available. For more advanced investors, trading Russell 2000 Index futures contracts is another option.


Launched in 1984, the Russell 2000 index comprises 2,000 small-cap companies, serving as a benchmark for U.S. small-cap stocks. This selection stems from the smallest entities within the comprehensive Russell 3000, which encompasses nearly 98% of publicly traded U.S. stocks. The index undergoes annual rebalancing every June, facilitating the addition or removal of companies.

Russell 2000 Index
Market Index
Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)