This issue of Hydrobiologia brings together a series of papers resulting from an intensified effort to describe the current status of the physical and biological conditions present at California's Salton Sea. Most of the studies were contract investigations that were part of a project initiated in January 1998 to pursue the improvement of environmental conditions at the Salton Sea. The remainder are independent investigations resulting in information of importance for the Salton Sea Restoration Project. The information provided by those investigations resulting in information of importance for the Salton Sea Restoration Project. The information provided by those investigations is the most holistic assembly of scientific knowledge about the Salton Sea ever brought together in a single publication. The resulting findings provide an important foundation of knowledge for what has been stated to be '. . . one of the worlds' most dynamic salt lakes . . .' (Hart et al., 1998). We hope this publication will serve as a catalyst to stimulate additional scientific investigations that will further enhance understanding of the dynamics of this unique ecosystem. The purpose for these introductory comments is to place the scientific investigations reported on and the Salton Sea Restoration Project in context and entities, and to one another.