This paper deals with a gradually deteriorating equipment whose actual degree of deterioration can be revealed by inspections only. An inspection can be succeeded by a revision depending on the system's degree of deterioration. In the absence of inspections and revisions, the working condition of the system evolves according to a Markov chain whose changes of state are not observable with the possible exception of a breakdown. Examples of this model include production machines subject to stochastic breakdowns, and maintenance of communication systems. The cost structure of the model consists of inspection, revision and operating costs. It is intuitively reasonable that in many applications a simple control-limit rule will be optimal. Such a rule prescribes a revision only when inspection reveals that the degree of deterioration has exceeded some critical level. A special-purpose Markov decision algorithm operating on the class of control-limit rules is developed for the computation of an average cost optimal schedule of inspections and revisions. © 1985.