DNA microarrays are a uniquely efficient method for simultaneously assessing the expression levels of thousands of genes. Owing to their flexibility and value, mechanically spotted microarrays remain the most popular platform. Here, we review recent technological advances with a focus on spotted arrays. Robotic spotting still poses numerous technical challenges. To reduce artefacts, many laboratories have recently investigated ways of improving the spotting process. We compare alternative options and discuss implications for next-generation systems. Together with modern approaches to data analysis, such developments bring greatly improved reliability to individual microarray experiments. Advancing towards the ultimate goal of delivering calibrated, truly quantitative gene-expression measurements on a genomic scale, microarray technology remains at the forefront of post-genomic systems biology.