Although the principle of uniformitarianism may be applied to the Precambrian sedimentary record as a whole, certain periods of the Archaean and Palaeoproterozoic witnessed a changing pattern of prime influences controlling the depositional systems. This paper examines the major controls on sedimentation systems and environments during the Archaean and Palaeoproterozoic within the broader perspective of Earth evolution. Earth's earliest sedimentary system (4.4?-3.7 Ga) was presumably comprised of deep oceanic realms and probably influenced primarily by bolide impacts, major tsunamis, localized traction and global contour current patterns, and bathymetry. As continental crust began to form, the impact-dominated, tsunami type sedimentation gave way to wider varieties of sedimentary environments, known from the oldest sedimentary records. During early continental crustal evolution (c. 3.7–2.7 Ga), sedimentation was essentially of greenstone-type. Volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks were the major components of the greenstone belts, associated with thin carbonates, stromatolitic evaporites, BIF, pelites and quartzites and lesser synorogenic turbidites, conglomerates and sandstones. Volcanism and active tectonism (reflecting dynamic depositional settings during island arc and proto-continental nucleus formation) were the predominant factors influencing sedimentation during this phase of Earth evolution. Transgressions and regressions under the combined influence of tectonics and eustasy are reflected in fining- and coarsening-upwards successions from the proto-cratonic settings; low freeboard enabled the transgression to affect large areas of the proto-cratons. As the earliest, relatively stable craton formed, through a combination of plate tectonic and mantle-thermal processes, continents and supercontinents with the potential for supercontinental cycles started to influence sedimentation strongly. Major controls on Neoarchaean–Palaeoproterozoic sedimentation systems (2.7–1.6 Ga) were provided by a combination of superplume events and plate tectonics. Two global-scale ‘superevents’ at c. 2.7 Ga and c. 2.2–1.8 Ga were accompanied by eustatic rise concomitant with peaks in crustal growth rates, and large epeiric seas developed. The operation of first-order controls leading to development of vast chemical sedimentary platforms in these epeiric seas and concomitant palaeo-atmospheric and palaeo-oceanic evolution combined to provide a second-order control on global sedimentary systems in the Neoarchaean–Palaeoproterozoic period. The supercontinental cycle had become well established by the end of the Palaeoproterozoic, with the existence of large cratons across broad spectrums of palaeolatitude enabling erg development. The entire spectrum of sedimentary systems and environments came into existence by c. 1.8 Ga, prime influences on sedimentation and depositional system possibly remaining essentially uniform thereafter.