This article introduces the special issue of Research on Language and Social Interaction organized around the theme “Opening and Maintaining Face-to-Face Interaction.” The contributions to this special issue collectively consider “how to begin” – either a new encounter, or a new sequence after a lapse in conversation. All articles analyze naturally-occurring, videorecorded episodes of casual and/or institutional copresent interaction using multimodal conversation analytic methods. Though the opening phase of a face-to-face encounter may elapse in a matter of seconds, this article shows it to house a dense universe of phenomena central to sustaining our human sense of self and our social relationships in everyday life. Before introducing the individual contributions to this special issue, this article elucidates state-of-the-art findings from conversation analytic research on how people begin encounters, delineating the modular components that people regularly use to constitute the copresent opening phase of interaction. Data in American English.