This paper discusses the biomechanical bases for occupant protection against frontal and side impact. Newton's Laws of Motion are used to illustrate the effect of a crash on restrained and unrestrained occupants, and the concept of ride down is discussed. Occupant protection through the use of energy absorbing materials is described, and the mechanism of injury of some of the more common injuries is explained. The role of the three-point belt and the airbag in frontal protection is discussed along with the potential injuries that can result from the use of these restraint systems. Side impact protection is more difficult to attain but some protection can be derived from the use of padding or a side impact airbag. It is concluded that the front seat occupants are adequately protected against frontal impact if belts are worn in an airbag equipped vehicle. Side impact protection may not be uniform in all vehicles.