Mention "test case", and it conjures up the image of a script or a program that exercises a system under test. In industrial practice, however, test cases often start out as steps described in natural language. These are essentially directions a human tester needs to follow to interact with an application, exercising a given scenario. Since tests need to be executed repeatedly, such manual tests then have to go through test automation to create scripts or programs out of them. Test automation can be expensive in programmer time. We describe a technique to automate test automation. The input to our technique is a sequence of steps written in natural language, and the output is a sequence of procedure calls with accompanying parameters that can drive the application without human intervention. The technique is based on looking at the natural language test steps as consisting of segments that describe actions on targets, except that there can be ambiguity in identifying segments, in identifying the action in a segment, as well as in the specification of the target of the action. The technique resolves this ambiguity by backtracking, until it can synthesize a successful sequence of calls. We present an evaluation of our technique on professionally created manual test cases for two open-source web applications as well as a proprietary enterprise application. Our technique could automate over 82% of the steps contained in these test cases with no human intervention, indicating that the technique can reduce the cost of test automation quite effectively. © 2012 IEEE.