The monitoring of the world's climate using conventional means is well established, incorporating numerous historical data sets to ensure a long-term record. Parameters such as temperature have been quite accurately recorded over the last 200 years or so, but other parameters such as rainfall are less well recorded. This paper introduces satellite rainfall climatology and why it is important, not only from the longer term study of rainfall, but also for the future monitoring and estimation of rainfall. A summary of the range of satellites and their instruments is reviewed to provide a background to the techniques. These are discussed and their relative merits explored. Finally, examples of the techniques are shown, illustrating the applications to which the satellite-derived data sets may be put. Copyright (C) 2001 Royal Meteorological Society.