Within the framework of the international field campaign COPS (Convective and Orographically-induced Precipitation Study), a large suite of state-of-the-art meteorological instrumentation was operated, partially combined for the first time. This includes networks of in situ and remote-sensing systems such as the Global Positioning System as well as a synergy of multi-wavelength passive and active remote-sensing instruments such as advanced radar and lidar systems. The COPS field phase was performed from 01 June to 31 August 2007 in a low-mountain area in southwestern Germany/eastern France covering the Vosges mountains, the Rhine valley and the Black Forest mountains. The collected data set covers the entire evolution of convective precipitation events in complex terrain from their initiation, to their development and mature phase until their decay. Eighteen Intensive Observation Periods with 37 operation days and eight additional Special Observation Periods were performed, providing a comprehensive data set covering different forcing conditions. In this article, an overview of the COPS scientific strategy, the field phase, and its first accomplishments is given. Highlights of the campaign are illustrated with several measurement examples. It is demonstrated that COPS research provides new insight into key processes leading to convection initiation and to the modification of precipitation by orography, in the improvement of quantitative precipitation forecasting by the assimilation of new observations, and in the performance of ensembles of convection-permitting models in complex terrain.