This paper considers the importance of particle motion to fishes and invertebrates and the steps that need to be taken to improve knowledge of its effects. It is aimed at scientists investigating the impacts of sounds on fishes and invertebrates but it is also relevant to regulators, those preparing environmental impact assessments, and to industries creating underwater sounds. The overall aim of this paper is to ensure that proper attention is paid to particle motion as a stimulus when evaluating the effects of sound upon aquatic life. Directions are suggested for future research and planning that, if implemented, will provide a better scientific basis for dealing with the impact of underwater sounds on marine ecosystems and for regulating those human activities that generate such sounds. The paper includes background material on underwater acoustics, focusing on particle motion; the importance of particle motion to fishes and invertebrates; and sound propagation through both water and the substrate. Consideration is then given to the data gaps that must be filled in order to better understand the interactions between particle motion and aquatic animals. Finally, suggestions are provided on how to increase the understanding of particle motion and its relevance to aquatic animals.