This chapter aims at defining the terms pulse and crop and their uses. It describes the complex role the pulse crops have in human diets, animal nutrition, non-food industry, and other applications. This also presents the official FAO data on the production, area, and yield of the selected pulse crops, which are the subject of the book. The second section of the chapter brings an overview of our current knowledge about the origin, domestication, and history of the economically most important pulse crops. This chapter includes one figure made of 16 photographs and 2 tables relating to the genera dealt with in the book.