A novel, cost-effective and rapid processing route including electrophoretic deposition (EPD) and pressure filtration (PF) has been developed for the fabrication of 2-D woven metallic fibre mat reinforced multilayer silica matrix composites. Commercially available silica sol containing ultrafine ceramic particles (15 nm) was used as the matrix whilst 2-D woven metal stainless steel 316L fibre mat was used as the metal reinforcement to produce a composite having 2-D isotropic properties. The colloidal silica sol was modified with boria and boehmite in order to produce a silica matrix which could be sintered at 900 degrees C (the maximum use temperature for the particular fibre architecture employed), and with densification taking place before crystallisation. An in-situ electrophoretic deposition (EPD) cell capable of measuring the weight gain in real time during deposition was designed. This technique enabled the woven fibre inter/intra tow regions to be infiltrated with the ultrafine silica particles in a very short time (2 min). Green bodies made from electrophoretically deposited fibre mats were further consolidated using pressure filtration. The EPD parameters were optimised in terms of time, voltage and deposition thickness as well as deposit formation rate. Microstructural observation indicated that the composites produced were dense and of high microstructural homogeneity. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.