A minimal remeshing finite element method for crack growth is presented. Discontinuous enrichment functions are added to the finite element approximation to account for the presence of the crack. This method allows the crack to be arbitrarily aligned within the mesh. For severely curved cracks, remeshing may be needed but only away from the crack tip where remeshing is much easier. Results are presented for a wide range of two-dimensional crack problems showing excellent accuracy. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.