Abstract The discovery of neutrino oscillations marks a major milestone in the history of neutrino physics, and opens a window to what lies beyond the Standard Model. Many current and forthcoming experiments will answer open questions; however, a major step forward, up to and possibly including CP violation in the neutrino mixing matrix, will be offered by the neutrino beams from a neutrino factory. The neutrino factory is a new concept for producing neutrino beams of unprecedented quality in terms of intensity, flavour composition, and precision of the beam parameters. These beams enable the exploration of otherwise inaccessible domains in neutrino oscillation physics by exploiting baselines of planetary dimensions. Suitable detectors pose formidable challenges but seem within reach with only moderate extrapolations from existing technologies. Although the main physics attraction of the neutrino factory is in the area of neutrino oscillations, an interesting spectrum of further opportunities ranging from high-precision, high-rate neutrino scattering to physics with high-intensity stopped muons comes with it.