Over the last decades luminescence dating techniques have been developed that allow earth scientists to determine the time of deposition of sediments. In this contribution we revity: 1) the development of the methodology, 2) tests of the reliability of luminescence dating on Netherlands' sediments; and 3) geological applications of the method in the Netherlands. Our review shows that optically stimulated luminescence dating of quartz grains using the single aliquot regenerative dose method yields results in agreement with independent age control for deposits ranging in age from a few years up to 125 ka. Optical dating of quartz has successfully been applied to sediments from a wide range of depositional environments such as coastal dunes, cover sands, fluvial channel deposits, colluvial deposits and fimic soils. These results demonstrate that optical dating is a powerful tool to explore the natural archive of the Netherlands' subsurface.