Electrical stimulation of nerve tissue and recording of neural electrical activity are the basis of emerging prostheses and treatments for spinal cord injury, stroke, sensory deficits, and neurological disorders. An understanding of the electrochemical mechanisms underlying the behavior of neural stimulation and recording electrodes is important for the development of chronically implanted devices, particularly those employing large numbers of microelectrodes. For stimulation, materials that support charge injection by capacitive and faradaic mechanisms are available. These include titanium nitride, platinum, and iridium oxide, each with certain advantages and limitations. The use of charge-balanced waveforms and maximum electrochemical potential excursions as criteria for reversible charge injection with these electrode materials are described and critiqued. Techniques for characterizing electrochemical properties relevant to stimulation and recording are described with examples of differences in the in vitro and in vivo response of electrodes.