Since the discovery of carbon nanotubes in 1991 by Iijima, there has been great interest in creating long, continuous nanotubes for applications where their properties coupled with extended lengths will enable new technology developments. For example, ultralong nanotubes can be spun into fibres that are more than an order of magnitude stronger than any current structural material, allowing revolutionary advances in lightweight, high-strength applications. Long metallic nanotubes will enable new types of micro-electromechanical systems such as micro-electric motors, and can also act as a nanoconducting cable for wiring micro-electronic devices. Here we report the synthesis of 4-cm-long individual single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) at a high growth rate of 11 microm s(-1) by catalytic chemical vapour deposition. Our results suggest the possibility of growing SWNTs continuously without any apparent length limitation.