Light is necessary for vision; it enables us to sense and perceive our surroundings and in many direct and indirect ways, via eye and skin, affects our physiological and psychological health. The use of light in built environments has comfort, behavioural, economic and environmental consequences. Daylight has many particular benefits including excellent visual performance, permitting good eyesight, effective entrainment of the circadian system as well as a number of acute non-image forming effects and the important role of vitamin D production. Some human responses to daylight seem to be well defined whilst others require more research to be adequately understood. This paper presents an overview of current knowledge on how the characteristics of daylight play a role in fulfilling these and other functions often better than electric lighting as conventionally delivered.