The following article is based on the plenary address by Luiz Davidovich (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), presented on April 14, 2004, at the 2004 MRS Spring Meeting in San Francisco. The field of quantum information is a discipline that aims to investigate methods for characterizing, transmitting, storing, compressing, and computationally utilizing the information carried by quantum states. It owes its rapid development over the last few years to several factors: the ability, developed in several laboratories, to control and measure simple microscopic systems; the discovery of fast quantum algorithms; and the recognition that Moore's law will soon lead to the single-atom limit of elementary computing gates.Cryptography and quantum computing are among the main applications in the field.They rely on the subtle and fundamental properties of the quantum world: the unavoidable disturbance associated with measurement, the superposition principle, and the nonlocal properties of entangled states. Progress in this area is intimately connected to a deep understanding of quantum physics: recent achievements include the experimental demonstration of teleportation and detailed investigations of the role of the environment in the quantum–classical transition. This article reviews basic concepts and recent developments in the field of quantum information, emphasizing the close ties between fundamental research and possible applications.