This lecture begins with some history and basic facts about string theory and its connections with strong interactions. Comparisons of stacks of Dirichlet branes with curved backgrounds produced by them are used to motivate the AdS/CFT correspondence between superconformal gauge theory and string theory on a product of Anti-de Sitter space and a compact manifold. The ensuing duality between semi-classical spinning strings and long gauge theory operators is briefly reviewed. We go on to describe a recent test of the AdS/CFT correspondence using the Wilson loop cusp anomaly as a function of the coupling, which also enters dimensions of high-spin operators. Finally, strongly coupled thermal SYM theory is explored via a black hole in 5-dimensional AdS space, which leads to explicit results for its entropy and shear viscosity.