A multiphase-field model for the description of coalescence in a binary alloy is solved numerically using adaptive finite elements with high aspect ratio. The unknown of the multiphase-field model are the three phase fields (solid phase 1, solid phase 2, and liquid phase), a Lagrange multiplier and the concentration field. An Euler implicit scheme is used for time discretization, together with continuous, piecewise linear finite elements. At each time step, a linear system corresponding to the three phases plus the Lagrange multiplier has to be solved. Then, the linear system pertaining to concentration is solved. An adaptive finite element algorithm is proposed. In order to reduce the number of mesh vertices, the generated meshes contain elements with high aspect ratio. The refinement and coarsening criteria are based on an error indicator which has already been justified theoretically for simpler problems. Numerical results on two test cases show the efficiency of the method. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.