Correlation spectrometer measurements of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates during the current eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat, have contributed towards identifying different phases of volcanic activity. SO2 emission rate has increased from <200 tonnes per day (td-1; <2.3 kgs-1) in the early stages of dome growth to >550 td-1 (>6.4 kgs-1) after July 1996, with the uncertainty associated with any individual measurement ca. 30%. Significantly enhanced SO2 emission rates have been identified in association with early phreatic eruptions (800 td-1 (9.3 kgs-1)) and episodes of vigorous dome collapse and pyroclastic flow generation (900 to 1500 td-1 (10.4 to 17.4 kgs-1)). SO2 emission rate has proved a useful proxy measurement for magma production rate. Observed SO2 emission rates are significantly higher than those inferred from analyses of glass inclusions in phenocrysts, implying the existence of a S-rich magmatic vapour phase.