This book investigates applications of selected chemical and isotopic substances that can be used to recognize and interpret age information pertaining to ‘old’ groundwater (defined as water that was recharged on a timescale from approximately 1000 to more than 1 000 000 a). However, as discussed below, only estimates of the ‘age’ of water extracted from wells can be inferred. These groundwater age estimates are interpreted from measured concentrations of chemical and isotopic substances in the groundwater. Even then, there are many complicating factors, as discussed in this book. In spite of these limitations, much can be learned about the physics of groundwater flow and about the temporal aspects of groundwater systems from age interpretations of measured concentrations of environmental tracers in groundwater systems. This chapter puts the concept of ‘age’ into context, including its meaning and interpretation, and attempts to provide a unifying usage for the rest of the book.