ALD is currently one of the most rapidly developing fields of thin film technology. Presentation gives an overview of ALD technology for optical film deposition, highlighting benefits, drawbacks and peculiarities of the ALD, especially compared to PVD. Viewpoint is practical, based on experience gained from tens of different applications over the last few decades. ALD is not competing, but enabling technology to provide coatings, which are difficult for traditional technologies. Examples of such cases are films inside of tubes; double side deposition on the substrate; large area accurate coatings; decorative coating for 3D parts; conformal coatings on high aspect ratio surfaces or inside porous structures. Novel materials can be easily engineered by making modifications on molecular level. ALD coats large surfaces effectively and fast. Opposite to common view, it actually provides high throughput (coated area/time), when used properly with a batch and/or in-line tools. It is possible to use ALD for many micrometers thick films or even produce thin parts with competitive cost. Besides optical films ALD provides large variety of features for nanofabrication. For example pin hole free films for passivation and barrier applications and best available films for conformal coatings like planarization or to improve surface smoothness. High deposition repeatability even with subnanometer film structures helps fabrication. ALD enters to production mostly through new products, not yet existing on the market and so the application IP field is reasonably open. ALD is an enabling, mature technology to fabricate novel optical materials and to open pathways for new applications.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.