The general purpose of this review is to briefly describe the historical foundations of coping research covering how it has evolved, over the past three to four decades, from research founded on a deficit model of stress to research that focused more often on exploring people's capacity to deal with life's circumstances and fulfil their potential. Five topic areas are covered. First, key theoretical underpinnings of coping research are described. Second, links between coping responses and emotion are presented, with an emphasis on how coping can mitigate the individual and environmental impacts of stress. Third, developmental studies of stress and coping are introduced showing how it is functionally important across the age span but may change in form. Fourth, the challenges for measuring coping are considered by describing classic and new approaches to assessment. Finally, later developments in coping research are covered by identifying recent research on proactive coping and dyadic approaches. Overall, this review also illustrates how coping research has traversed the full gamut of the lifespan.