The genesis of the International Food Legume Research Conference (IFLRC) can be traced back to 1983 - and so this Volume, the Proceedings of that Conference, has had a gestation period of close to five years. Professor Norman Simmonds, the perennial Book Review Editor of Experimental Agriculture, has expressed the opinion (vol. 22, p. 201, 1986) that "Many symposial volumes are just plain awful!" Elsewhere (Nature vol. 312, pp. 201-2, 1984), Anthony Watkinson - then a Commissioning Editor at Oxford University Press has described several reasons which have led him to believe that "Conference proceedings - symposia - are generally disliked . . . . To put it mildly, this type of publication has a bad name". The problems, from an author's perspective, of contributing to any many-authored publication are aired in an exchange of correspondence in Biologist (vol. 30, pp. 123 and 180, 1983; and vol. 31, pp. 3 and 69,1984). And from the editor's viewpoint, D. J. Weatherall - then Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford - has described (Nature vol. 317, p.