The various methods of realizing a liquid crystal voltage controlled retarder are reviewed. The factors influencing uniformity and stability are examined. Asymptotic expressions for the retardation in the high voltage limit are given, and this is shown to be the most stable operating region. The application of this device to a color display system is discussed. Color uniformity and limiting resolution are examined. Data on the 450 twist cell are presented. © 1980, Optical Society of America.