This paper describes a method to extrude near-body volume meshes that exploits topologically adaptive generalized elements to improve local mesh quality. Specifically, an advancing layer algorithm for extruding volume meshes from surface meshes of arbitrary topology, appropriate for viscous fluid flows, is discussed. First, a two-layer reference mesh is generated from the layer initial surface mesh by extruding along the local surface normals. The reference mesh is then smoothed using a Poisson equation. Local quality improvement operations such as edge collapse, face refinement, and local reconnection are performed in each layer to drive the mesh toward isotropy and improve the transition from the extruded mesh to a void-filling tetrahedral mesh. A few example meshes along with quality plots are presented to demonstrate the efficacy of this approach. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.