Recently, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has focused increased attention on the development of transparent armor material systems for a variety of applications. Future combat and non-combat environments will require lightweight, threat adjustable, multifunctional, and affordable armor. Current glass/polycarbonate technologies are not expected to meet the increased requirements. Results over the past few years indicate that the use of transparent crystalline ceramics greatly improve the performance of a system. These results coupled with recent processing and manufacturing advances have revitalized the interest in using transparent ceramics for armor systems. The materials currently under investigation at ARL are magnesium aluminate spinel (MgAl2O4), aluminum oxynitride spinel (AlON), single crystal sapphire (Al2O3), glasses, and glass-ceramics. The polymers under investigation are polycarbonate (PC) and polyurethane (PU). An overview of current ARL efforts in these areas, including the motivation for using transparent ceramics, the requirements, the potential applications, and the ongoing processing research will be reviewed.© (2000) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.