The Hoek–Brown criterion was introduced in 1980 to provide input for the design of underground excavations in rock. The criterion now incorporates both intact rock and discontinuities, such as joints, characterized by the geological strength index (GSI), into a system designed to estimate the mechanical behaviour of typical rock masses encountered in tunnels, slopes and foundations. The strength and deformation properties of intact rock, derived from laboratory tests, are reduced based on the properties of discontinuities in the rock mass. The nonlinear Hoek–Brown criterion for rock masses is widely accepted and has been applied in many projects around the world. While, in general, it has been found to provide satisfactory estimates, there are several questions on the limits of its applicability and on the inaccuracies related to the quality of the input data. This paper introduces relatively few fundamental changes, but it does discuss many of the issues of utilization and presents case histories to demonstrate practical applications of the criterion and the GSI system.