Face adaptation generates striking face aftereffects, but is this adaptation useful? The answer appears to be yes, with several lines of evidence suggesting that it contributes to our face-recognition ability. Adaptation to face identity is reduced in a variety of clinical populations with impaired face recognition. In addition, individual differences in face adaptation are linked to face-recognition ability in typical adults. People who adapt more readily to new faces are better at recognizing faces. This link between adaptation and recognition holds for both identity and expression recognition. Adaptation updates face norms, which represent the typical or average properties of the faces we experience. By using these norms to code how faces differ from average, the visual system can make explicit the distinctive information that we need to recognize faces. Thus, adaptive norm-based coding may help us to discriminate and recognize faces despite their similarity as visual patterns.