Information on Merapi eruptive activity is scattered and much is remotely located. A concise and well-documented summary of this activity has been long needed to assist researchers and hazard-mitigation efforts, and the aim of this paper is to synthesize information from the mid-1700s to the present. A descriptive chronology is given, with an abbreviated chronology in a table that summarizes events by year, assigns preliminary Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) ratings and Hartmann classifications, and provides key references. The history of volcano monitoring is also outlined. The study reveals that a major difference in eruption style exists between the twentieth and nineteenth centuries, although the periodicity between larger events seems about the same. During the twentieth century, activity has comprised mainly the effusive growth of viscous lava domes and lava tongues, with occasional gravitational collapses of parts of oversteepened domes to produce the nue??es ardentes - commonly defined as "Merapi-type". In the 1800s, however, explosive eruptions of relatively large size occurred (to VEI 4), and some associated "fountain-collapse" nue??es ardentes were larger and farther reaching than any produced in the twentieth century. These events may also be regarded as typical eruptions for Merapi. The nineteenth century activity is consistent with the long-term pattern of one relatively large event every one or two centuries, based on the long-term eruptive record deduced by others from volcanic stratigraphy. It is uncertain whether or not a "recurrence-time" model continues to apply to Merapi, but if so, Merapi could soon be due for another large event and its occurrence with only modest (or inadequately appreciated) precursors could lead to a disaster unprecedented in Merapi's history because the area around the volcano is now much more densely populated. ?? 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.