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The author lays out the history, current status, and predicted future of system reliability engineering in the nuclear power industry. The chief focus is on reliability in the area of public safety, with particular emphasis on the valuable contributions made by probabilistic risk assessments. The paper concludes with reflections on the benefits that reliability engineering can offer both the industry itself and the public in understanding the promise and the pitfalls of nuclear power. It is noted that with safety and reliability issues now more or less integrated into the regulatory process, the regulatory structure becomes the single most crucial factor in the effort to market an economical and safe nuclear product.