My first job as a palynologist was with Shell Development Company in Houston, Texas. I was hired in 1955, and my assignment was to study pollen and spores in recent sediments in whatever way or ways I wished. For the next seven years I did this for Shell, and have, since then, been fascinated by the relationship between pollen, spores and other organic particles to the organisms from which they derive and to the sediments in which they occur as fossils. When Dr. Mary Dettmann invited me to organize a symposium on this subject for the 6th International Palynological Congress in Brisbane, Australia (August–September, 1988), I accepted enthusiastically. After the Congress I invited the participants in the symposium to produce chapters on this subject for a proposed book. However, as it worked out, there is very slight overlap between this volume and that symposium. For one reason or another, some of the participants in Brisbane did not prepare chapters. Others (including me) felt that the papers they had published in the Proceedings volume for the Congress (Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 64, 1990) need not be duplicated, and they produced something quite different for this book. It is also very significant for the shape of the present volume that I invited a number of people to write chapters who were not involved in the symposium at all, in order to assure a wide-ranging coverage of the subject. The new project was inspired by the symposium, but publishes a much different and broader array of material than was presented in Australia in 1988.