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Debating the premises of Hurley and Rand versus those of Armstrong on the formation of continents, scientists gathered in a special session of the 1998 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Toronto in October to discuss "Continent Formation, Growth and Recycling". Twenty-four talks were presented, ten of which have been developed into papers published in this special issue of "Tectonophysics". The papers are grouped by subdiscipline: Ogawa, de Smet et al., Schott et al., and Regenauer-Lieb and Yuen present numerical models of asthenospheric melting and convection and lithospheric break-up and delamination. Green et al., Krapez et al., and Henry et al. report geologic geochronologic, geochemical and isotopic data for some key Archean cratonic terranes. Condie, Abbott et al., and Vlaar discuss global models for crustal growth, emphasizing episodic magmatism, crustal and lithospheric thickness, and crustal isostasy, respectively. Readers of the entire special issue will see that a definitive answer to the overall question of continental growth rates has not been reached, but that much progress is being made on understanding the processes involved in continent development.