This article reviews the past 15 years of developments in regional ocean data assimilation. A variety of scientific, management, and safety-related objectives motivate marine scientists to characterize many ocean environments, including coastal regions. As in weather prediction, the accurate representation of physical, chemical, and or biological properties in the ocean is challenging. Models and observations alone provide imperfect representations of the ocean state, but together they can offer improved estimates. Variational and sequential methods are among the most widely used in regional ocean systems, and there have been exciting recent advances in ensemble and four-dimensional variational approaches. These techniques are increasingly being tested and adapted for biogeochemical applications.