The language of recovery is now widely used in mental health policy, services, and research. Yet the term has disparate antecedents, and is used in a variety of ways. Some of the history of the use of the term recovery is surveyed, with particular attention to the new meaning of the term, especially as identified by service users, supported and taken up to various degrees by research and in the professional literature. Policy and practice in two countries - Australia and the United Kingdom - are examined to determine the manner and extent to which the concept of recovery is evident. In its new meaning, the concept of recovery has the potential to bring about profound and needed changes in mental health theory and practice. It is being taken up differently in different settings. It is clear that - at least in Australia and the United Kingdom - there are promising new recovery models and practices that support recovery, but the widespread use of recovery language is not enough to ensure that the core principles of the recovery model are implemented.