Dental amalgam has served as an excellent and versatile restorative material for many years, despite periods of controversy. The authors review its history, summarize the evidence with regard to its performance and offer predictions for the future of this material. The PubMed database was used initially; the reference list for dental amalgam featured 8641 articles and 13 publications dealing with recent advances in dental amalgam. A forward search was undertaken on selected articles and using some author names. For the present, amalgam should remain the material of choice for economic direct restoration of posterior teeth. When esthetic concerns are paramount, tooth-colored materials, placed meticulously, can provide an acceptable alternative. All alternative restorative materials and procedures, however, have certain limitations.