In this paper, I present a summary of the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, with emphasis on its historical development and range of boundary condition datasets. Sea-surface temperature (SST), sea level, sea ice, land cover (vegetation and ice) and topography are discussed as well as many of the assumptions required to create an integrated global-scale reconstruction. New multiproxy research shows good general agreement on the magnitude of mid-Pliocene SST warming. Future directions, including maximum and minimum SST analyses and deep ocean temperature estimates aimed at a full three-dimensional reconstruction, are presented. ?? The Micropalaeontological Society 2007.