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Deterministic, distributed-parameter, numerical simulation models for analyzing groundwater flow and transport problems have come to be used almost routinely during the past decade. A review of the theoretical basis and practical use of groundwater flow and solute transport models is used to illustrate the state-of-the-art. Because of errors and uncertainty in defining model parameters, models must be calibrated to obtain a best estimate of the parameters. For flow modeling, data generally are sufficient to allow calibration. For solute-transport modeling, lack of data not only limits calibration, but also causes uncertainty in process description. Where data are available, model reliability should be assessed on the basis of sensitivity tests and measures of goodness-of-fit. Some of these concepts are demonstrated by using two case histories. ?? 1988.