Beams of electrons and ions are now fairly routinely focused to dimensions in the nanometer range. Since the beams can be used to locally alter material at the point where they are incident on a surface, they represent direct nanofabrication tools. The authors will focus here on direct fabrication rather than lithography, which is indirect in that it uses the intermediary of resist. In the case of both ions and electrons, material addition or removal can be achieved using precursor gases. In addition ions can also alter material by sputtering (milling), by damage, or by implantation. Many material removal and deposition processes employing precursor gases have been developed for numerous practical applications, such as mask repair, circuit restructuring and repair, and sample sectioning. The authors will also discuss structures that are made for research purposes or for demonstration of the processing capabilities. In many cases the minimum dimensions at which these processes can be realized are considerably larger than the beam diameters. The atomic level mechanisms responsible for the precursor gas activation have not been studied in detail in many cases. The authors will review the state of the art and level of understanding of direct ion and electron beam fabrication and point out some of the unsolved problems. (c) 2008 American Vacuum Society.