Hitherto peripheral (if not outright ignored) in general medieval historiography, medieval medical history is now a vibrant subdiscipline, one that is rightly attracting more and more attention from ‘mainstream’ historians and other students of cultural history. It does, however, have its particular characteristics, and understanding its source materials, methods, and analytical limitations may help those not trained in the field better navigate, explore and potentially contribute to its possibilities for illuminating the intersections of medicine and health with other aspects of medieval culture. Although this article focuses primarily on western Europe, many of its observations are also relevant to the Islamic world and Byzantium precisely because all three cultures shared many of the same intellectual traditions and social structures. The attached bibliography serves as a general introduction to the current state of the field.