The general aspects underlying the design of magneto-hydrostatic (MH) laboratory systems are considered. Some characteristics of useful two-dimensional systems are investigated by use of the complex potential to describe the magnetic fields corresponding to particular pole configurations. Properties of the field, i.e., its geometry, intensity, and distribution of forces, are discussed with respect to their role in the MH systems. MH systems with continuous variation of gradient (as well as of force) from negative to positive values are shown to provide the complete useful range of negative and positive levitation forces. The limitations, as compared to the merits of the MH systems, are discussed in this context. Copyright © 1978 by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.