The goals of this special section are to examine the state-of-the-science regarding race/ethnicity and racism as they contribute to health disparities and to articulate a research agenda to guide future research. In the first paper, Myers presents an integrative theoretical framework for understanding how racism, poverty, and other major stressors relate to health through inter-related psychosocial and bio-behavioral pathways. Williams and Mohammed review the evidence concerning associations between racism and health, addressing the multiple levels at which racism can operate and commenting on important methodological issues. Klonoff provides a review and update of the literature concerning ethnicity-related disparities in healthcare, and addresses factors that may contribute to these disparities. Brondolo and colleagues consider racism from a stress and coping perspective, and review the literature concerning racial identity, anger coping, and social support as potential moderators of the racism-health association. Finally, Castro and colleagues describe an ecodevelopmental model that can serve as an integrative framework to examine multi-level social-cultural influences on health and health behavior. In aggregate, the special section papers address theoretical and methodological issues central to understanding the determinants of health disparities, with the aim of providing direction for future research critical to developing effective interventions to reduce these disparities.