The licensing history of the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) in the United States is given historical perspective. The experience began with the licensing of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station and extends to the continuing experience at the Fort St. Vrain Nuclear Generating Station. Additional experience was obtained from the licensing reviews in the mid-1970s of the large HTGR plants that were to be built by Philadelphia Electric Company and Delmarva Power and Light. Also, information was provided by the licensing review of the General Atomic standard plant by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at about the same time. These experiences are summarized in terms of the principal design criteria that were required by the regulatory authority for each project. These criteria include specification of the design basis accidents that were postulated for the plant safety analysis. Several technical issues raised by the NRC during their review of the large HTGR are presented.