This paper explores the notion of an atomic action as a method of process structuring. This notion, first introduced explicitly by Eswaren et al  in the context of data base systems, reduces the problem of coping with many processes to that of coping with a single process within the atomic action. A form of process synchronization, the await statement, is adapted to work naturally with atomic actions. System recovery is also considered and we show how atomic actions can be used to isolate recovery action to a single process. Explicit control of recovery is provided by a reset procedure that permits information from rejected control paths to be passed to subsequent alternative paths. © 1977, ACM. All rights reserved.