The Solar Wind Experiment (SWE) on the WIND spacecraft is a comprehensive, integrated set of sensors which is designed to investigate outstanding problems in solar wind physics. It consists of two Faraday cup (FC) sensors; a vector electron and ion spectrometer (VEIS); a strahl sensor, which is especially configured to study the electron ‘strahl’ close to the magnetic field direction; and an on-board calibration system. The energy/charge range of the Faraday cups is 150 V to 8 kV, and that of the VEIS is 7 V to 24.8 kV. The time resolution depends on the operational mode used, but can be of the order of a few seconds for 3-D measurements. ‘Key parameters’ which broadly characterize the solar wind positive ion velocity distribution function will be made available rapidly from the GGS Central Data Handling Facility.