Among the forage legumes somatic embryogenesis has been most studied in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) reflecting inherent breeding problems and the high demand for seeds of this species. Current methods of somatic embryogenesis are reviewed with emphasis on each of the 3 stages involved: the acquisition of competence, the induction of somatic embryogenesis, and somatic embryo development and maturation. The role of plant growth regulators is particularly stressed. Artificial seed production, the development of reduced-generation synthetics or hybrids and genetic transformation of alfalfa are considered. Research on somatic embryogenesis and plant transformation in a wide range of other forage legumes is examined but it is suggested that the application of artificial seed technology is unlikely in forage legumes other than alfalfa.