The goal of the Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS) is to improve our understanding of the interactions between the boreal forest biome and the atmosphere in order to clarify their roles in global change. This overview paper describes the science background and motivations for BOREAS and the experimental design and operations of the BOREAS 1994 and BOREAS 1996 field years. The findings of the 83 papers in this journal special issue are reviewed. In section 7, important scientific results of the project to date are summarized and future research directions are identified.