The understanding of epigenetic mechanisms is necessary for assessing the potential impacts of epigenetics on plant growth, development and reproduction, and ultimately for the response of these factors to evolutionary pressures and crop breeding programs. This volume highlights the latest in laboratory and bioinformatic techniques used for the investigation of epigenetic phenomena in plants. Such techniques now allow genome-wide analyses of epigenetic regulation and help to advance our understanding of how epigenetic regulatory mechanisms affect cellular and genome function. To set the scene, we begin with a short background of how the field of epigenetics has evolved, with a particular focus on plant epigenetics. We consider what has historically been understood by the term "epigenetics" before turning to the advances in biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics which have led to current-day definitions of the term. Following this, we pay attention to key discoveries in the field of epigenetics that have emerged from the study of unusual and enigmatic phenomena in plants. Many of these phenomena have involved cases of non-Mendelian inheritance and have often been dismissed as mere curiosities prior to the elucidation of their molecular mechanisms. In the penultimate section, consideration is given to how advances in molecular techniques are opening the doors to a more comprehensive understanding of epigenetic phenomena in plants. We conclude by assessing some opportunities, challenges, and techniques for epigenetic research in both model and non-model plants, in particular for advancing understanding of the regulation of genome function by epigenetic mechanisms.