For the past 15 years, nanoscale metallic iron (nZVI) has been investigated as a new tool for the treatment of contaminated water and soil. The technology has reached commercial status in many countries worldwide, however is yet to gain universal acceptance. This review summarises our contemporary knowledge of nZVI aqueous corrosion, manufacture and deployment, along with methods to enhance particle reactivity, stability and subsurface mobility. Reasons for a lack of universal acceptance are also explored. Key factors include: concerns over the long-term fate, transformation and ecotoxicity of nZVI in environmental systems and, a lack of comparable studies for different nZVI materials and deployment strategies. It is highlighted that few investigations to date have examined systems directly analogous to the chemistry, biology and architecture of the terrestrial environment. Such emerging studies have highlighted new concerns, including the prospect for remobilisation of heavy metals and radionuclides over extended periods. The fundamental importance of being able to accurately predict the long-term physical, chemical and biological fate of contaminated sites following nZVI treatment is emphasised and, as part of this, a universal empirical testing framework for nZVI is suggested.