A thorough survey of work on ring rolling published in the English and German languages by 2004 is presented. The process is briefly introduced and a set of ideals are stated, as the target for all developments in the area. The main challenges which inhibit attainment of these ideals are given, and the process is compared with alternatives. The main body of the review is organised in four parts: the evolution of the design of ring rolling equipment is described, including detailed discussion of the design and manufacture of preforms; the methods used to investigate the process are reviewed, separated into experimental and theoretical categories; the insights gained from these investigations are organised according to the challenges identified at the outset; developments in the control and operation of the process are described. Having given a set of ideal targets for the process, the state of current knowledge about ring rolling is assessed in order to predict likely developments: process modelling capability is nearly able to predict rolling behaviour for a complete cycle with sufficient accuracy to allow effective use of models for design of rolling schedules and preforms; analysis of material behaviour is relatively mature for steel rings, but has scope for significant extension for titanium and aluminium alloys and composites; design choices that seek to extend the flexibility of the process have had some exploration, but could be extended. Finally, the seminal contribution of Professor Kopp is briefly described.