Deployment of larger scale wind turbine systems, particularly offshore, requires more organized operation and maintenance strategies to ensure systems are safe, profitable and cost-effective. Among existing maintenance strategies, reliability centred maintenance is regarded as best for offshore wind turbines, delivering corrective and proactive (i.e. preventive and predictive) maintenance techniques enabling wind turbines to achieve high availability and low cost of energy. Reliability centred maintenance analysis may demonstrate that an accurate and reliable condition monitoring system is one method to increase availability and decrease the cost of energy from wind. In recent years, efforts have been made to develop efficient and cost-effective condition monitoring techniques for wind turbines. A number of commercial wind turbine monitoring systems are available in the market, most based on existing techniques from other rotating machine industries. Other wind turbine condition monitoring reviews have been published but have not addressed the technical and commercial challenges, in particular, reliability and value for money. The purpose of this paper is to fill this gap and present the wind industry with a detailed analysis of the current practical challenges with existing wind turbine condition monitoring technology. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.