The administration of IV fluid to avoid dehydration, maintain an effective circulating volume, and prevent inadequate tissue perfusion should be considered, along with the maintenance of sleep, pain relief, and muscular relaxation, a core element of the perioperative practice of anesthesia. Knowledge of the effects of different fluids has increased in recent years, and the choice of fluid type in a variety of clinical situations can now be rationally guided by an understanding of the physicochemical and biological properties of the various crystalloid and colloid solutions available. However, there are few useful clinical outcome data to guide this decision. Deciding how much fluid to give has historically been more controversial than choosing which fluid to use. A number of clinical studies support the notion that an approach based on administering fluids to achieve maximal left ventricular stroke volume (while avoiding excess fluid administration and consequent impairment of left ventricular performance) may improve outcomes. In this article, we review the available fluid types and strategies of fluid administration and discuss their relationship to clinical outcomes in adults.