On September 1-7, 1996 a conference on Groups and Geometries took place in lovely Siena, Italy. It brought together experts and interested mathematicians from numerous countries. The scientific program centered around invited exposi tory lectures; there also were shorter research announcements, including talks by younger researchers. The conference concerned a broad range of topics in group theory and geometry, with emphasis on recent results and open problems. Special attention was drawn to the interplay between group-theoretic methods and geometric and combinatorial ones. Expanded versions of many of the talks appear in these Proceedings. This volume is intended to provide a stimulating collection of themes for a broad range of algebraists and geometers. Among those themes, represented within the conference or these Proceedings, are aspects of the following: 1. the classification of finite simple groups, 2. the structure and properties of groups of Lie type over finite and algebraically closed fields of finite characteristic, 3. buildings, and the geometry of projective and polar spaces, and 4. geometries of sporadic simple groups. We are grateful to the authors for their efforts in providing us with manuscripts in LaTeX. Barbara Priwitzer and Thomas Hintermann, Mathematics Editors of Birkhauser, have been very helpful and supportive throughout the preparation of this volume.