Hunter-Schreger bands are an optical phenomenon observed in mammalian tooth enamel. Familiar to all current and former students of dental histology, this optical phenomenon appears as alternating patterns of dark and light bands when cut enamel is viewed under reflected light. The discovery of this important feature of mammalian enamel has been historically credited to two eighteenth-century investigators, Hunter and Schreger. A re-evaluation of the evidence would suggest that the bands were observed almost seventy years earlier by a French scientist, Gabriel-Philippe de la Hire, and subsequently confirmed by the famous French dentist Pierre Fauchard. This article reviews the contribution of de la Hire, as well as that of Fauchard, Hunter and Schreger, to the early recognition among the scientific community of what would now be referred to as 'enamel microstructure'.