The Institute for Simulation and Training (IST) was created in 1984 by the University of Central Florida to provide research support to the U.S. Department of Defense in the area of simulation-based training. In 1989, IST's Visual Systems Laboratory (VSL) was inaugurated. Focal areas of research at VSL include distributed realtime physical simulation, interoperability among networked simulators, the application of virtual environments to education, training, and design, and head-mounted display technology. Section 1 describes the history of IST and VSL, and VSL's early projects. Section 2 surveys current research projects in three main areas: dynamic environments, interoperability, and virtual environments. Section 3 describes service and educational activities, and Section 4 provides insight into future research plans.