A theoretical perspective designed for clinical application and based on fundamental occupational therapy principles is offered. This perspective, the occupational adaptation frame of reference, is presented as an articulation of (a) a normal developmental process leading to competence in occupational functioning;(b) the process through which the benefits of occupational therapy occur; and (c) a perspective that promotes holistic practice. The person is viewed as operating occupationally through an idiosyncratic configuration of sensorimotor, cognitive, and psychosocial systems, all of which are inevitably involved in each occupational response. This occupational functioning is described as occurring through interaction of the person with a work, play and leisure, or self-care context that has distinctive physical, social, and cultural properties (i.e., the occupational environment). Occupational adaptation is a perspective that can influence practice, education, and research.