The prelaunch calibration of AXAF encompasses many aspects of the telescope. In principle, all that is needed is the complete point response function. This is, however, a function of energy, off-axis angle of the source, and operating mode of the facility. No single measurement would yield the entire result. Also, any calibration made prior to launch will be affected by changes in conditions after launch, such as the change from one g to zero g. The reflectivity of the mirror and perhaps even the detectors can change as well, for example by addition or removal of small amounts of material deposited on their surfaces. In this paper, we give a broad view of the issues in performing such a calibration, and discuss how they are being addressed in prelaunch preparation of AXAF. As our title indicates, we concentrate here on the total throughput of the observatory. This can be thought of as the integral of the point response function, i.e. the encircled energy, out to the largest practical solid angle for an observation. Since there is no standard x-ray source in the sky whose flux is well known to the approximately 1% accuracy we are trying to achieve, we must do this calibration on the ground. We also must provide a means for monitoring any possible changes in this calibration from prelaunch until on-orbit operation can transfer the calibration to a celestial x-ray source whose emission is stable. In the paper, we analyze the elements of the absolute throughput calibration, which we call the effective area. We review the requirements for calibrations of components or subsystems of the AXAF facility, including the mirror, detectors, and gratings. We show how it is necessary to have an absolute calibrated detection system available during the prelaunch calibrations to measure the flux in the x-ray beam used for calibrating AXAF. We show how it is necessary to calibrate this ground-based detection system at standard man-made x-ray sources, such as electron storage rings. We present the status of all these calibrations, with indications of the measurements remaining to be done, even though the measurements on the AXAF flight optics and detectors will have been completed by the time this paper is presented. We evaluate progress toward the goal of making 1% measurements of the absolute x-ray flux from astrophysical sources, so that comparisons can be made with their emission at other wavelengths, in support of observations such as the Sunyaev-Zeldovitch effect, which can give absolute distance measurements independent of the traditional distance measuring techniques in astronomy.