The role of properties in the solution of Computer Aided Process Engineering (CAPE) problems is described in terms of current trend, future challenges and important issues. Three distinct roles of properties in CAFE have been identified - a service role, a service plus advice role and a service, advice plus solve role. The CAFE problems solved under each of these roles are described together with simple illustrative examples. Finally, the paper describes how some of the future problems related to integration of synthesis, design and control might be dealt with efficiently and reliably through co-operative CAFE and properties methodologies. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.