The use of the computer in medical education has been in evolutionary development since the early 1960s; its adoption, however, has been less widespread than the promise of the medium should warrant. Computer-assisted instruction enhances learning, allowing the student the discretion of content, time, place, and pace of instruction. Information conveyed can take several forms, some better suited to undergraduate medical education, others more applicable to graduate and continuing education. The use of the computer in certification and licensure could, within a decade, transform the way competence is assessed. Its greatest promise, however, may lie in providing pertinent information at the time when, and in the place where, patient care takes place. New developments in data storage and retrieval forecast applications that could not have been imagined even a year or two ago.