This review surveys some recent observations of polarization in solar spectral lines with emphasis on their theoretical interpretation. Solar optical polarimetry is concerned primarily with measuring solar magnetic fields, a quest which began with Hale’s (1908) observation of Zeeman splitting in a sunspot. Today a wide range of optical polarimeters is used for solar research (see Bauer (1981) for a comprehensive review). For example, a standard magnetograph (Babcock 1953) detects circular polarization in selected wavelength bands in the wings of a Zeeman sensitive line, providing information on the line of sight or longitudinal field component. The most sophisticated instrument is a Stokes polarimeter (e.g. Bauer et al 1980, 1981) which measures with high spectral resolution the profiles of all four Stokes parameters (I,Q,U,V) across a spectral line. Such a device potentially provides all the data needed to infer the vector magnetic field.