Atmospheric remote sounding from satellites is an essential component of the observational strategy deployed to monitor atmospheric pollution and changing composition. The IASI nadir looking thermal infrared sounder onboard MetOp will provide 15 years of global scale observations for a series of key atmospheric species, with unprecedented spatial sampling and coverage. This paper gives an overview of the instrument's capability for measuring atmospheric composition in the perspective of chemistry and air quality. The assessment is made in terms of species, accuracy and vertical information. Global distributions are presented for CO, CH4, O3 (total and tropospheric), HNO3, NH3, and volcanic SO2. Local distributions of organic species measured during fire events, such as C2H4, CH3OH, HCOOH, and PAN are also shown. For each species or process, the link is made to specialized papers in this issue.