This paper discusses the concept of potential natural vegetation (PNV) in the light of the pollen records available to date for the Macaronesian biogeographical region, with emphasis on the Azores Islands. The classical debate on the convenience or not of the PNV concept has been recently revived in the Canary Islands, where pollen records of pre-anthropic vegetation seemed to strongly disagree with the existing PNV reconstructions. Contrastingly, more recent PNV model outputs from the Azores Islands show outstanding parallelisms with pre-anthropic pollen records, at least in qualitative terms. We suggest the development of more detailed quantitative studies to compare these methodologies as an opportunity for improving the performance of both. PNV modelling may benefit by incorporating empirical data on past vegetation useful for calibration and validation purposes, whereas palynology may improve past reconstructions by minimizing interpretative biases linked to differential pollen production, dispersal and preservation.