Hydrologists have long recognized that changes in barometric pressure can produce changes in water levels in wells. The barometric response function (BRF) has proven to be an effective means to characterize this relationship; we show here how it can also be utilized to glean valuable insights into semi-confined aquifer systems. The form of the BRF indicates the degree of aquifer confinement, while a comparison of BRFs between wells sheds light on hydrostratigraphic continuity. A new approach for estimating hydraulic properties of aquitards from BRFs has been developed and verified. The BRF is not an invariant characteristic of a well; in unconfined or semi-confined aquifers, it can change with conditions in the vadose zone. Field data from a long-term research site demonstrate the hydrostratigraphic insights that can be gained from monitoring water levels and barometric pressure. Such insights should be of value for a wide range of practical applications. ?? 2010 The Author(s). Journal compilation ?? 2010 National Ground Water Association.