This article presents new empirical compressional and shear-wave velocity (Vp and Vs) versus depth relationships for the most common rock types in northern California. Vp versus depth relations were developed from borehole, laboratory, seismic refraction and tomography, and density measurements, and were converted to Vs versus depth relations using new empirical relations between Vp and Vs. The relations proposed here account for increasing overburden pressure but not for variations in other factors that can influence velocity over short distance scales, such as lithology, consolidation, induration, porosity, and stratigraphic age. Standard deviations of the misfits predicted by these relations thus provide a measure of the importance of the variability in Vp and Vs caused by these other factors. Because gabbros, greenstones, basalts, and other mafic rocks have a different Vp and Vs relationship than sedimentary and granitic rocks, the differences in Vs between these rock types at depths below 6 or 7 km are generally small. The new relations were used to derive the 2005 U.S. Geological Survey seismic velocity model for northern California employed in the broadband strong motion simulations of the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1906 San Francisco earthquakes; initial tests of the model indicate that the Vp model generally compares favorably to regional seismic tomography models but that the Vp and Vs values proposed for the Franciscan Complex may be about 5% too high.