Abstract : In a collaborative computer-supported engineering environment, the interoperation of various applications will need a representation that goes beyond the current geometry-based representation, which is inadequate for capturing semantic information. The primary purpose of this study is to discuss a semantically based information exchange protocol that will facilitate seamless interoperability among current and next generation computer-aided design systems (CAD) and between CAD and other systems that use product data. An ontological approach is described to integrating computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided process planning (CAPP). Two commercial software applications are used to demonstrate the approach. This involves the development of a shared ontology and domain specific ontologies in the Knowledge Interchange Format (KIF) language. Domain specific ontologies — which are feature-based — are developed after a detailed analysis of the CAD and the CAPP software. Mapping between the domain ontologies and the shared ontology is achieved by several mapping rules. The approach is validated by using a variety of parts.