This book details the forum that was held by the National Materials Advisory Board at the National Academy of Sciences. The purpose of this forum was to bring the importance of materials to the attention of policy makers and to promote interactions between policy makers and the materials community. Four key themes were addressed: the critical role of materials in advancing technology and enhancing the nation s economy, security, and health, industrial and societal needs that will require materials development in the new millennium. Materials research areas with the greatest potential for meeting those needs, and federal and industrial research initiatives that can help the materials community meet those needs. To help focus this discussion, special sessions were convened to address the current and future roles of materials in four selected areas: information technology, health and biotechnology, national security, and energy and the environment.