The methods and mechanisms of nonsolvent induced phase separation have been studied for more than fifty years. Today, phase inversion membranes are widely used in numerous chemical industries, biotechnology, and environmental separation processes. The body of knowledge has grown exponentially in the past fifty years, which suggests the need for a critical review of the literature. Here we present a review of nonsolvent induced phase separation membrane preparation and characterization for many commonly used membrane polymers. The key factors in membrane preparation discussed include the solvent type, polymer type and concentration, nonsolvent system type and composition, additives to the polymer solution, and film casting conditions. A brief introduction to membrane characterization is also given, which includes membrane porosity and pore size distribution characterization, membrane physical and chemical properties characterization, and thermodynamic and kinetic evaluation of the phase inversion process. One aim of this review is to lay out the basics for selecting polymer solvent nonsolvent systems with appropriate film casting conditions to produce membranes with the desired performance, morphology, and stability, and to choose the proper way to characterize these properties of nonsolvent induced phase inversion membranes. © 2011 American Chemical Society.