Mercury is a poorly known planet, since the only space-based information comes from the three fly-bys performed in 1974 by the Mariner 10 spacecraft. Ground-based observations also provided some interesting results, but they are particularly difficult to obtain due to the planet’s proximity to the Sun. Nevertheless, the fact that the planet’s orbit is so close to the Sun makes Mercury a particularly interesting subject for extreme environmental conditions. Among a number of crucial scientific topics to be addressed, Mercury’s exosphere, its interaction with the solar wind and its origin from the surface of the planet, can provide important clues about planetary evolution. In fact, the Hermean exosphere is continuously eroded and refilled by these interactions, so that it would be more proper to consider the Hermean environment as a single, unified system surface-exosphere-magnetosphere. These three parts are indeed strongly linked to each other. In recent years, the two missions scheduled to explore the iron planet, the NASA MESSENGER mission (launched in March 2004) and the ESA cornerstone mission (jointly with JAXA) BepiColombo (to be launched in 2012), have stimulated new interest in the many unresolved mysteries related to it. New ground-based observations, made possible by new technologies, have been obtained, and new simulation studies have been performed. In this paper some old as well as the very latest observations and studies related to the surface-exosphere-magnetosphere system are reviewed, outlining the investigations achievable by the planned space-based observations. This review intends to support the studies, in preparation of future data, and the definition of specific instrumentation.