This paper introduces a framework for real-time simulation and rendering of crowds navigating in a virtual environment. The solution first consists in a specific environment preprocessing technique giving rise to navigation graphs, which are then used by the navigation and simulation tasks. Second, navigation planning interactively provides various solutions to the user queries, allowing to spread a crowd by individualizing trajectories. A scalable simulation model enables the management of large crowds, while saving computation time for rendering tasks. Pedestrian graphical models are divided into three rendering fidelities ranging from billboards to dynamic meshes, allowing close-up views of detailed digital actors with a large variety of locomotion animations. Examples illustrate our method in several environments with crowds of up to 35000 pedestrians with real-time performance. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.