The assembly of eukaryotic chromatin, and the bearing of its structural organization on the regulation of gene expression, were the central topics of a recent conference organized jointly by the Biochemical Society and Wellcome Trust. A range of talks and poster presentations covered topical aspects of this research field and illuminated recent advances in our understanding of the structure and function of chromatin. The two-day meeting had stimulating presentations complemented with lively discourse and interactions of participants. In the present paper, we summarize the topics presented at the meeting, in particular highlighting subjects that are reviewed in more detail within this issue of Biochemical Society Transactions. The reports bring to life the truly fascinating molecular and structural biology of chromatin.