Throughout history it has been proved that tendencies in the manufacturing floor are a reflection of the changes in the customer's demands. Today, markets increasingly require more customized products, with shorter life cycles. In response, manufacturing systems have evolved from mass production techniques, through flexible automation, and to mass customization to produce 'one-of-a-kind production at mass production costs. This paper argues that manufacturing systems of the next generation will have to incorporate more flexibility and intelligence, evolving towards reconfigurable manufacturing systems. In particular, the concept of 'intelligence becomes more relevant because of the need to maintain effective and efficient manufacturing operations with minimum downtime under conditions of uncertainty. This paper presents a comprehensive literature review of the field of reconfigurable and intelligent machines. The relevant research issues for the development and introduction of reconfigurable machines tools are presented.