Very metal-poor stars ([Fe/H] < –2.0) inform our understanding of the formation and evolution of the Galaxy, and the physical conditions in the earliest star-forming environments of the Universe. They play an integral part in the paradigms of stellar populations, stellar archaeology, and near-field cosmology. We review the carbon-rich and carbon-normal sub-populations of the most iron-poor stars, providing insight into chemical enrichment at the earliest times in the Universe. We also discuss the role of very metal-poor stars in providing insight into the Galaxy’s halo, thick disk, and bulge, and the promise they hold for the future. A comparison between the abundances obtained for the nine most Fe-poor stars ([Fe/H] < –4.5) (all but one of which is C-rich) with abundances obtained from far-field cosmology suggests that the former are the most chemically primitive objects yet observed and probably older than the DLA- and sub-DLA systems for which data are currently available from far-field studies.