Invertebrates are an integral part of soils and are important in determining the suitability of soils for the sustainable production of healthy crops or trees. We discuss the importance of the soil invertebrate fauna in relation to terrestrial habitats and global biodiversity as we understand it. We describe the role of the main invertebrate groups in soils, including earthworms, termites, springtails, and nematodes, and how they determine soil quality. Practical problems in dealing with the invertebrate fauna include sampling, taxonomy and availability of biological information on species. Various measures are available that use invertebrates to assess soil quality, each with its advantages and disadvantages. They include abundance, biomass, density, species richness, trophic/guild structure, food web structure, keystone species and ecosystem engineers. We propose the three most useful and practical of these as suitable to be combined with other biological (microbial) and non-biological (hydrological, physical, chemical) criteria into a single index of soil quality that might be used on a regional, if not international basis.