Compression in mammography is an accepted technique for improving image quality and reducing dose, but excessive compression can cause pain and other undesirable effects. Therefore, maximum compression force should be measured in a quality assurance programme. A compression force meter, based on a load cell design, has been constructed and used to make compression force measurements on three GE Senographe 600T mammography machines. These measurements show that the conversion from pneumatic pressure (as indicated on the machine) to applied compression force is given by Compression Force (N) = (79.0 +/- 0.9) x Pneumatic Pressure (bars) + (12.2 +/- 4.0). Using this equation and pneumatic pressure settings on nine GE Senographe 600T units in our quality assurance programme, the maximum compression force in clinical use ranges from 102 to 150 N with a mean of 126 N. This is lower than guidelines used in the United States and the United Kingdom.