Reconfigurable manufacturing systems (RMSs), which possess the advantages of both dedicated serial lines and flexible manufacturing systems, were introduced in the mid-1990s to address the challenges initiated by globalization. The principal goal of an RMS is to enhance the responsiveness of manufacturing systems to unforeseen changes in product demand. RMSs are cost-effective because they boost productivity, and increase the lifetime of the manufacturing system. Because of the many streams in which a product may be produced on an RMS, maintaining product precision in an RMS is a challenge. But the experience with RMS in the last 20 years indicates that product quality can be definitely maintained by inserting in-line inspection stations. In this paper, we formulate the design and operational principles for RMSs, and provide a state-of-the-art review of the design and operations methodologies of RMSs according to these principles. Finally, we propose future research directions, and deliberate on how recent intelligent manufacturing technologies may advance the design and operations of RMSs.