The CFH12K is a 12K by 8K CCD mosaic camera for the Canada- France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), a 3.6 m telescope located on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The CFH12K is comprised of twelve 4K by 2K thinned backside-illuminated CCDs, arrange din a close- packed array of two rows each containing six CCDs. Located at the CFHT Prime Focus, the CFH12K provides a 42 by 28 arcminute field-of-view, 0.206 arcsecond per pixel sampling, with a resulting data file of more than 200Mbytes per image. The camera has been designed to exploit the exceptional wide-field imaging capability provided by the CFHT. At the time of its commissioning in January 1999, the CFH12K is the largest thinned close-packed CCD mosaic in astronomy. This paper describes the system architecture, and some of the relevant issues associated with the construction, evaluation, and operation of very large mosaic cameras. Emphasis is given to system design issues, illustrating the CFHT12K as part of a larger system: the CFHT.