Significant developments in soil erosion research for the period 1950–2000 are reviewed. The main emphasis is on work in western Europe and North America. We highlight work on process studies in splash, rill and gully erosion. Important developments also occurred in monitoring, measuring and modelling erosion, as well as in recording and understanding rates of erosion. We concentrate on cultivated and bare soils, and have included badlands and peatland erosion in our review.