Occurrences of granulite facies rocks are widespread in continental regions where they mostly are parts of stable shield areas. Granulite facies terrains are classified as low-, medium- or high-pressure terrains on the basis of critical mineral associations. Special interest is attached to the medium- and high-pressure terrains, as they are representative of the deepest crustal levels available for study in any areal extent on the surface, and may give information about the composition of the lower continental crust. Granulite facies terrains are mainly composed of metamorphic and metasomatic rocks, but magmatic rocks with primary igneous textures interpreted as formed by crystallization of magmas under granulite facies conditions are frequent in some areas. Examples of such rocks are anorthosites, gabbros and mangerites. The low-pressure-high-temperature granulite facies rocks are chemically indistinguishable from the amphibolite facies gneisses with which they characteristically occur. It is therefore important to make a distinction between these and the higher pressure types. The medium- to high-pressure granulite facies terrains are characterized by a less `acidic' average major element compositions, and significant depletions in Rb, Cs, Th and U compared with average surface shield compositions. Available data also indicate low initial Sr isotope ratios, even in the gneissic types. In the author's opinion the important problem associated with granulite facies rocks is not that of their origin, but rather of their importance as constituents of the continental crust, and how they attained their present chemistry.