Abstract This paper critically reviews current expert system developments relevant to geographic information systems, and identifies several research topics for application of expert system technology in geographic information systems. We have identified four major problem domains of geographic information systems in which expert system technology has been applied—automated map design, terrain/feature extraction, database management/user interface, and geographic decision support systems. Efforts in each problem domain are critically reviewed. Considering the accomplishments and shortcomings of efforts to date, we identify areas likely to gain importance in this field. Our view of these prospects is moderated by constraints of current technology and a realistic view of current efforts. Future research will place more emphasis on formal representation of both knowledge and uncertainty. Another future research area will be the development of advanced tools for geographic knowledge acquisition. Finally, better methods for working with large-scale geographic databases will be needed.