Firmly rooted in Solereder’s ‘Systematische Anatomic der Dikotyledonen’ from the turn of the century, the first edition in 1950 of Metcalfe and Chalk’s ‘Anatomy of the Dicotyledons' was to become the most frequently cited work of reference in botanical literature. This edition together with the series on the anatomy of the Monocotyledons edited by Dr. Metcalfe at Kew, have profoundly stimulated comparative and systematic anatomy, so that an updated second edition of the ‘Dicots’ has to incorporate a tremendous amount of recent literature. This has induced the authors to choose an entirely different approach for the new edition. The present, first, together with the forthcoming second volume contain general chapters only and thus will constitute a 2-volume textbook of systematic plant anatomy. The individual family treatments are to follow at a later stage, although their completion seems somewhat uncertain, also in view of the widely mourned death of Dr. Chalk in 1979. In volume I several chapters have been contributed by guest authors, and the main authors therefore share the credit with Richard A. Howard, who contributed on nodal and petiole anatomy; Leo J. Hickey (on leaf architecture), Katherine Esau (on phoem); David F. Cutler (on scanning electron microsopy); William L. Theobald, Joseph L. Krahulik and Reed C. Collins (on trichomes); and last but not least Hazel P. Wilkinson on the plant surface (with 70 pages the most important chapter). Other chapters are on the history of systematic anatomy, external morphology, different cell types, and general histology of leaf and stem by Dr. Metcalfe. Dr. Chalk’s contribution will constitute a major part of volume II, which will deal with wood anatomy and ecological anatomy, amongst other subjects.