Helium-cooled nuclear power systems offer a great potential for electricity generation when their long-term economic, environmental, conservation and energy self-sufficiency features are examined. The high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) has the unique capability of providing high-temperature steam for electric power and process heat uses and/or high-temperature heat for endothermic chemical reactions. A variation of the standard steam cycle HTGR is one in which the helium coolant flows directly from the core to one or more closed cycle gas turbines. The effective use of nuclear fuel resources for electric power and nuclear process heat will be greatly enhanced by the gas-cooled fast breeder reactor (GCFR) currently being developed. A GCFR using thorium in the radial blanket could generate sufficient U-233 to supply the fuel for three HTGRs, or enough plutonium from a depleted uranium blanket to fuel a breeder economy expanding at about 10% per year. The feasibility of utilizing helium to cool a fusion reactor is also discussed. The status of helium-cooled nuclear energy systems is summarized as a basis for assessing their prospects. 50 references.