An object oriented finite element model is presented. The main advantage of this model over conventional systems is that, the additional code required for adding elements to the finite element library is minimal. The powerful mechanisms provided by object oriented systems facilitate this. These mechanisms enable re-use of existing code, and allow the programmer to leave certain operations to the computer, which, without object oriented techniques, would not have been possible. In the above model, the finite elements are represented in the form of a hierarchical tree by which it is possible to develop elements by programming only the differences from existing elements. Suitable object oriented designs have been developed for representing mathematical entities like differential operators and shape functions, with a view to automating the process of development of element properties, so that, the element developer needs to specify just the minimum details, leaving most of the operations to the computer. Some of the concepts in object oriented programming are explained in detail, with the examples used in the above model. © 1993, MCB UP Limited. All rights reserved.