Mars Global Surveyor is the sixth spacecraft to return measurements of the Martian bow shock. The earlier missions were Mariner 4 (1964), Mars 2 and 3 (1972), Mars 5 (1975) and Phobos 2 (1989) (see reviews by Gringauz, 1981; Slavin and Holzer, 1982; Russell, 1985; Vaisberg, 1992a,b; Zakharov, 1992). Previous investigations of planetary bow shocks have established that their position, shape and jump conditions are functions of the upstream flow parameters and the nature of the solar wind — planet interaction (Spreiter and Stahara, 1980; Slavin et al., 1983; Russell, 1985). At Mars, however, the exact nature of the solar wind interaction was elusive due to the lack of low altitude plasma and magnetic field measurements (e.g., Axford, 1991). In fact our knowledge of the nature of the interaction of Mars with the solar wind was incomplete until the arrival of MGS and the acquisition of close-in magnetic field data (Acuña et al., 1998). As detailed by a series of review papers in this monograph, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission has now shown that the Mars environment is very complex with strong, highly structured crustal magnetic remnants in the southern hemisphere, while the northern hemisphere experiences the direct impingement of solar wind plasma. This review paper first presents a survey of the observations on the Martian bow shock and the upstream phenomena in the light of results from all the missions to date. It also discusses the kinetic properties of the Martian bow shock compared to the predictions of simulations studies. Then it examines the current status of understanding of these phenomena, including the possible sources of upstream low-frequency waves and the interpretations of localized disturbances in the upstream solar wind around Mars. Finally, it briefly discusses the open issues and questions that require further study.