The differential cross section of neon, argon, krypton, and xenon for the elastic scattering and for the excitation of optical transitions has been measured. For neon and argon the elastic angular distribution can be described by the cross section calculated according to Wentzel and Lenz. For krypton and xenon there are considerable deviations from the Wentzel-Lenz cross section. In these cases it is better to calculate the elastic differential cross section from Slater eigenfunctions, from Thomas-Fermi-Dirac or from Hartree-Fock electron density distribution. The differential cross sections for the excitation of optical transitions, so far as measured here, obey for ϑ< ϑ c the dipol approximation, i.e. for angles not to small the inverse square angular dependence is valid. ϑ c is higher for the heavier rare gases. The oscillator strengths for some transitions have been determined from the scattering measurements in satisfactory agreement with theoretical values.