TEXTAL is a computer program that automatically-interprets electron density maps to determine the atomic structures of proteins through X-ray crystallography. Electron density maps are traditionally interpreted by visually fitting atoms into density patterns. This manual process can be time-consuming and error prone, even for expert crystallographers. Noise in the data and limited resolution make map interpretation challenging. To automate the process, TEXTAL employs a variety of AI and pattern-recognition techniques that emulate the decision-making processes of domain experts. In this article, we discuss the various ways AI technology is used in TEXTAL, including neural networks, case-based reasoning, nearest neighbor learning and linear discriminant analysis. The AI and pattern-recognition approaches have proven to be effective for building protein models even with medium resolution data. TEXTAL is a successfully deployed application; it is being used in more than 100 crystallography labs from 20 countries. Copyright © 2006, American Association for Artificial Intelligence. All rights reserved.