The Model Parameter Estimation Experiment (MOPEX) is an international project aimed at developing enhanced techniques for the a priori estimation of parameters in hydrological models and in land surface parameterization schemes connected to atmospheric models. The MOPEX science strategy involves: database creation, a priori parameter estimation methodology development, parameter refinement or calibration, and the demonstration of parameter transferability. A comprehensive MOPEX database has been developed that contains historical hydrometeorological data and land surface characteristics data for many hydrological basins in the United States (US) and in other countries. This database is being continuously expanded to include basins from various hydroclimatic regimes throughout the world. MOPEX research has largely been driven by a series of international workshops that have brought interested hydrologists and land surface modellers together to exchange knowledge and experience in developing and applying parameter estimation techniques. With its focus on parameter estimation, MOPEX plays an important role in the international context of other initiatives such as GEWEX, HEPEX, PUB and PILPS. This paper outlines the MOPEX initiative, discusses its role in the scientific community, and briefly states future directions.