The lacrimal glands produce the aqueous component of the pre-ocular tear film, which is essential for ocular health and optimal vision. This review explores its history, current understanding and recent advances, and scope for future research. It traces the evolution of human knowledge about the source of tears across several millennia, with specific emphasis on the individuals who made seminal contributions to this field. It provides a detailed update on the morphology, microscopic structure, innervation, vascular supply, and imaging modalities of both the main and accessory lacrimal glands. The review also summarizes the recent advances in lacrimal gland regeneration and repair for the treatment of dry eye disease, particularly the role of mesenchymal stem cells. Lastly, the review gazes into the future of lacrimal gland research, which aims at translating the existing laboratory knowledge into clinical application, with the possibility of transplanting cultivated lacrimal constructs or the use of cell-based therapies for repair of diseased human lacrimal glands.