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In recent years, increased automatization has resulted in a higher efficiency of boar semen processing in AI laboratories. Sophisticated laboratory management and efficient quality control programmes are needed for current tendencies in major pork-producing countries to reduce the sperm number per AI dose, to lengthen semen storage times and to adopt responsible methods for bacterial control and prevention of the development of multiresistant bacteria. The objective of the present review was to outline current trends in boar semen production and the critical steps in semen processing which affect sperm quality. In addition, integrated elements of a quality assurance programme in use by thirty European AI centres in association with the two German spermatology reference laboratories are described.