Through a review of literature, the essential role of fire in the boreal forest as a natural regulatory agent of composition and succession is discussed in terms of plants, soils, and animals. In natural, long-term cycles, the incidence of lightning-started fires on a particular area may have been only once in one to three centuries, but fire nevertheless has always been an agent for destruction and renewal of boreal forest stands. It is suggested that fire's beneficial effects, e.g. nutrient cycling, removal of excessive mor humus, warming of soil surface, depression of permafrost, provision of browse, etc. should be utilized in managing the forest's renewable resources. Research on physical, physiological, and ecological effects of fire will supplement the meagre experience available for effective management of the boreal forest.