This paper summarizes the physical mechanisms that encode the type and quantity of cosmological matter in the properties of large-scale structure, and reviews the application of such tests to current datasets. The key lengths of the horizon size at matter-radiation equality and at last scattering determine the total matter density and its ratio to the relativistic density; acoustic oscillations can diagnose whether the matter is collisionless, and small-scale structure or its absence can limit the mass of any dark-matter relic particle. The most stringent constraints come from combining data on present-day galaxy clustering with data on CMB anisotropies. Such an analysis breaks the degeneracies inherent in either dataset alone, and proves that the Universe is very close to flat. The matter content is accurately consistent with pure cold dark matter, with ca. 25% of the critical density, and fluctuations that are scalar only, adiabatic and scale invariant. It is demonstrated that these conclusions cannot be evaded by adjusting either the equation of state of the vacuum, or the total relativistic density.