Use of nonlinear parameter estimation techniques is now commonplace in ground water model calibration. However, there is still ample room for further development of these techniques in order to enable them to extract more information from calibration datasets, to more thoroughly explore the uncertainty associated with model predictions, and to make them easier to implement in various modeling contexts. This paper describes the use of pilot points as a methodology for spatial hydraulic property characterization. When used in conjunction with nonlinear parameter estimation software that incorporates advanced regularization functionality (such as PEST), use of pilot points can add a great deal of flexibility to the calibration process at the same time as it makes this process easier to implement. Pilot points can be used either as a substitute for zones of piecewise parameter uniformity, or in conjunction with such zones. In either case, they allow the disposition of areas of high and low hydraulic property value to be inferred through the calibration process, without the need for the modeler to guess the geometry of such areas prior to estimating the parameters that pertain to them. Pilot points and regularization can also be used as an adjunct to geostatistically based stochastic parameterization methods. Using the techniques described herein, a series of hydraulic property fields can be generated, all of which recognize the stochastic characterization of an area at the same time that they satisfy the constraints imposed on hydraulic property values by the need to ensure that model outputs match field measurements. Model predictions can then be made using all of these fields as a mechanism for exploring predictive uncertainty.