Neutron scattering as a probe of microscopic structure and dynamics is a powerful tool for research in a wide variety of fields, and an accelerator-based spallation neutron source can supply high flux pulses for neutron scattering. The characteristics of neutron scattering, the principle and development of spallation neutron sources, and their advantages in multidisciplinary applications are summarized. In the proposed project of the Chinese Spallation Neutron Source the target station will consist of a piece-stacked tungsten target, a Be/Fe reflector and an Fe/heavy concrete bio-protected shelter. The pulsed neutron flux will be up to 2.4×10E16n/cm2/s under a nuclear power of 100 kW. Five neutron scattering instruments —— a high flux powder diffractometer, a high resolution powder diffractometer, small angle diffractometer, multi-functional reflectometer and direct geometry inelastic spectrometer, will be constructed as the first step to cover most neutron scattering applications.