Although balance control is an integral component of all daily activities, its complex and flexible nature makes it difficult to assess adequately. This paper discusses balance by examining it in relation to function and the physical environment. Balance is affected by both the task being undertaken and the surroundings in which it is performed. Different tasks and environments alter the biomechanical and information processing needs for balance control. These issues are discussed and a modification of Gentile s Taxonomy of Tasks is suggested for analysis of clinical balance tests, some of which are used as examples.