The publication of this Health Review forms an important milestone in health systems reform in South Africa and serves three important functions. First, it presents available information about health and health care in a systematic and comprehensive manner. In doing so, it provides an instrument whereby the implementation of new health policies can be evaluated periodically. Second, it critiques policy developments in the health sector in an attempt to document progress and identify resolved and unresolved policy questions. Third, it helps formulate a research agenda to address and clarify unclear policy issues.