This paper provides an overview for this special publication on the geologic framework of the inner shelf and coastal zone of west-central Florida. This is a significant geologic setting in that it lies at the center of an ancient carbonate platform facing an enormous ramp that has exerted large-scale control on coastal geomorphology, the availability of sediments, and the level of wave energy. In order to understand the Holocene geologic history of this depositional system, a regional study defined by natural boundaries (north end of a barrier island to the apex of a headland) was undertaken by a group of government and university coastal geologists using a wide variety of laboratory and field techniques. It is the purpose of this introductory paper to define the character of this coastal/inner shelf system, provide a historical geologic perspective and background of environmental information, define the overall database, present the collective objectives of this regional study, and very briefly present the main aspects of each contribution. Specific conclusions are presented at the end of each paper composing this volume. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.