Abstract This paper reviews the results of some experimental tests carried out to evaluate the performance of selftuning (ST) controllers for temperature control of a continuous stirred tank heater, composition control of a binary distillation column and pH control of an acidic effluent. All the pilot plant units have been controlled using a single variant selftuning control, and a newly developed multivariant ST controller was used for simultaneous control of the terminal compositions of the distillation column. The control performance of the units operating under ST control is compared to that obtained using very well tuned proportional plus integral (PI) or proportional plus integral plus derivative (PID) conventional controllers. Control of pH is shown using a technique of electrochemical neutralisation coupled with a single variant ST controller. The control algorithms have been programmed on a number of microprocessor- and minicomputer-based systems. Z80 for stirred tank heater control, LS1-11 for pH control and HP1000 distributed computer system for distillation control.