A computer-controlled force gauge designed to measure the adhesive strength of barnacles on test substrata is described. The instrument was evaluated with adult barnacles grown in situ on Silastic T2(R)-coated microscope slides and epoxy replicas adhered to the same substratum with synthetic adhesive. The force per unit area required to detach the barnacles (critical removal stress) using the new automated system was comparable to that obtained with ASTM D5618 (1994) (0.19 and 0.28 MPa compared with 0.18 and 0.27 MPa for two batches of barnacles). The automated method showed a faster rate of force development compared with the manual spring force gauge used for ASTM D5618 (1994). The new instrument was as accurate and precise at determining surface area as manual delineation used with ASTM D5618 (1994). The method provided significant advantages such as higher throughput speed, the ability to test smaller barnacles (which took less time to grow) and to control the force application angle and speed. The variability in measurements was lower than previously reported, suggesting an improved ability to compare the results obtained by different researchers.