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An adaptive mesh generation method for two- and three-dimensional finite element methods using edge elements is proposed. Since the tangential component continuity is preserved when using edge elements, the strategy of creating new nodes is based on evaluation of the normal component of the magnetic vector potential across element interfaces. The evaluation is performed at the middle point of edge of a triangular element for two-dimensional problems or at the gravity center of triangular surface of a tetrahedral element for three-dimensional problems. At the boundary of two elements, the error estimator is the ratio of the normal component discontinuity to the maximum value of the potential in the same material. One or more nodes are set at the middle points of the edges according to the value of the estimator as well as the subdivision of elements where new nodes have been created. A final mesh will be obtained after several iterations. Some computation results of two- and three-dimensional problems using the proposed method are shown. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.