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This paper summarizes the salient characteristics of meteoric-hydrothermal systems, emphasing the isotopic systematics. Discussions of permeable-medium fluid dynamics and the geology and geochemistry of modern geothermal systems are also provided, because they are essential to any understanding of hydrothermal circulation. The main focus of the paper is on regions of ancient meteoric-hydrothermal activity, which give us information about the presently inaccessible, deep-level parts of modern geothermal systems. It is shown oxygen and hydrogen isotopes provide a powerful method to discover and map fossil hydrothermal systems and to investigate diverse associated aspects of rock alteration and ore deposition.