Today's DBMSs are unable to support the increasing demands of the various applications that would like to use a DBMS. Each kind of application poses new requirements for the DBMS. The Starburst project at IBM's Almaden Research Center aims to extend relational DBMS technology to bridge this gap between applications and the DBMS. While providing a full function relational system to enable sharing across applications, Starburst will also allow (sophisticated) programmers to add many kinds of extensions to the base system's capabilities, including language extensions (e.g., new datatypes and operations), data management extensions (e.g., new access and storage methods) and internal processing extensions (e.g., new join methods and new query transformations). To support these features, the database query language processor must be very powerful and highly extensible. Starburst's language processor features a powerful query language, rule-based optimization and query rewrite, and an execution system based on an extended relational algebra. In this paper, we describe the design of Starburst's query language processor and discuss the ways in which the language processor can be extended to achieve Starburst's goals. © 1989, ACM. All rights reserved.