The Surgeon General's 1999 report on mental health cited stigma as "the most formidable obstacle to future progress in the arena of mental illness and health." In this month's issue a special section of four articles highlights current research that shows the pervasive and corrosive effects of stigma on adherence to medication regimens, self-esteem, and social adaptation of people with mental illness, regardless of their diagnosis, and on the well-being of their family members. In an overview of the four articles, Deborah A. Perlick, Ph.D., guest editor of the special section, focuses attention on the ways that stigma creates barriers to recovery, both in reducing the effectiveness of psychosocial rehabilitation and in impeding the restoration of self-esteem, a sense of purpose, and a better quality of life. (The special section begins on page 1613.) In Taking Issue, Jeffrey L. Geller, M.D., M.P.H., discusses how programs with the best of intentions may result in stigmatization of people with mental illness (see page 1559).