Résumé : The joint increase in the number and size of patents filed around the world puts patent systems under pressure. This paper addresses issues in measuring the voluminosity of patent applications and highlights patterns in its evolution. The results, based on a database of 2 million EPO applications, show that the average size of applications has doubled over the past 20 years and that this is mainly associated with PCT applications having a US priority. Voluminosity indicators are influenced by geographical origins and technological areas and strongly impact the workload of the EPO, justifying the need for regulatory and policy actions. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.