Initial experiments at the ATLAS facility [Nucl. Instr. and Meth. B 92 (1994) 241] resulted in a clear detection of cosmogenic 39Ar signal at the natural level. The present paper summarizes the recent developments of 39Ar AMS measurements at ATLAS: the use of an electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) positive ion source equipped with a special quartz liner to reduce 39K background, the development of a gas handling system for small volume argon samples, the acceleration of 39Ar8+ ions to 232 MeV, and the final separation of 39Ar from 39K in a gas-filled spectrograph. The first successful AMS measurements of 39Ar in ocean water samples from the Southern Atlantic ventilation experiment (SAVE) are reported. Published by Elsevier B.V.