Traditionally, the finite element technique has been applied to static and steady-state problems using implicit methods. When nonlinearities exist, equilibrium iterations must be performed using Newton-Raphson or quasi-Newton techniques at each load level. In the presence of complex geometry, nonlinear material behavior, and large relative sliding of material interfaces, solutions using implicit methods often become intractable. A dynamic relaxation algorithm is developed for inclusion in finite element codes. The explicit nature of the method avoids large computer memory requirements and makes possible the solution of large-scale problems. The method described approaches the steady-state solution with no overshoot, a problem which has plagued researchers in the past. The method is included in a general nonlinear finite element code. A description of the method along with a number of new applications involving geometric and material nonlinearities are presented.