This paper is an attempt to place the dispute about early man in South America in historical context and to review the most convincing and important evidence that has been put forward. Essentially no skeletal remains–either in North or South America–have survived recent scrutiny and direct dating by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) and small CO2 counters. Only a handful of North American sites still are considered likely to be pre-Clovis, but the concept of an earlier, generalized hunting-and-gathering adaptation remains popular. In South America the pre-Paleoindian sites of the 1960s and 1970s are reevaluated and found to present only weak or negative indications of early occupation. Recently discovered sites in Brazil and Chile are examined critically, and the evidence is questioned. The results of this survey and evaluation suggest that we still lack the absolutely certain case that would be necessary to support the hypothesis of glacial-age occupation. Moreover, the probability of demonstration is seen to decrease, rather than increase, as the Paleoindian horizon increasingly is defined with more certainty while only equivocal cases are marshalled for an Archaic-like pre-Paleoindian stage. In summarizing prehistory, archaeologists should depend more on unambiguous and replicated cases, rather than on regional exceptions. More interpretive caution is needed, especially where there are possibilities of mixture and secondary deposition. Natural processes often mimic cultural patterns, confusing the positive identification of informal hearths and simple artifacts.