Cropping on saline land is restricted by the low tolerance of crops to salinity and waterlogging. Prospects for improving salt tolerance in wheat and barley include the use of: (i) intra-specific variation, (ii) variation for salt tolerance in the progenitors of these cereals, (iii) wide-hybridisation with halophytic 'wild' relatives ( an option for wheat, but not barley), and (iv) transgenic techniques. In this review, key traits contributing to salt tolerance, and sources of variation for these within the Triticeae, are identified and recommendations for use of these traits in screening for salt tolerance are summarised. The potential of the approaches to deliver substantial improvements in salt tolerance is discussed, and the importance of adverse interactions between waterlogging and salinity are emphasised. The potential to develop new crops from the diverse halophytic flora is also considered.