Milking cows two or three times a day for 7 days a week is time-consuming and a heavy load for the farmer. Many high-yielding cows enter the milking parlour with heavy udders. To be able to increase the milking frequency and to decrease the physical labour requirements automatic milking systems are developed. In 1996 about 45 installations are being used on practical farms, mostly on farms in the Netherlands but also in Belgium, canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK. The technical performance has gradually developed over the last four years to a level that allows routine operation without human interference, except for two or three periods per day in which some remaining unmilked cows can be milked with human help in attaching the cluster. The intergration in the farms however and the means to achieve the planned milking frequency need attention. Further research is necessary on the production of milk with a good quality and to develop the possibility of treating the teats with a disinfection fluid and teat cleaning. Though there are problems to be solved it can be expected that these systems will be introduced on a substantial number of dairy farms in the next few years.