High-beta, low-aspect-ratio ("compact") stellarators are promising solutions to the problem of developing a magnetic plasma configuration for magnetic fusion power plants that can be sustained in steady state without disrupting. These concepts combine features of stellarators and advanced tokamaks and have aspect ratios similar to those of tokamaks (2-4). They are based on computed plasma configurations that are shaped in three dimensions to provide desired stability and transport properties. Experiments are planned as part of a program to develop this concept. A beta = 4% quasi-axisymmetric plasma configuration has been evaluated for the National Compact Stellarator Experiment (NCSX). It has a substantial bootstrap current and is shaped to stabilize ballooning, external kink, vertical, and neoclassical tearing modes without feedback or close-fitting conductors. Quasi-omnigeneous plasma configurations stable to ballooning modes at beta = 4% have been evaluated for the Quasi-Omnigeneous Stellarator (QOS) experiment. These equilibria have relatively low bootstrap currents and are insensitive to changes in beta. Coil configurations have been calculated that reconstruct these plasma configurations, preserving their important physics properties. Theory- and experiment-based confinement analyses are used to evaluate the technical capabilities needed to reach target plasma conditions. The physics basis for these complementary experiments is described. (C) 2000 American Institute of Physics. [S1070-664X(00)94905-X].