Friction stir welding (FSW) involves plastic deformation at high strain rates and elevated temperatures with resultant microstructural changes leading to joining. This article provides a link between deformation and FSW process parameters and summarizes the results of experimental temperature measurements during FSW of various metals. It considers the physical explanation of the heat input during FSW and the possible methods of their estimation. The article presents the experimental results of two analytical models, supplemented by experimental/numerical flow models on material flow during FSW. The types of defects, processing parameters affecting the generation of these defects, and results of theoretical models and simulations to understand the formation and control of defects during FSW are discussed. The article concludes with information on the microstructure and its distribution produced during FSW.