The scale of the damage worldwide to human health, animal health and agricultural crops resulting from parasitic nematodes, together with the paucity of treatments and the threat of developing resistance to the limited set of widely-deployed chemical tools, underlines the urgent need to develop novel drugs and chemicals to control nematode parasites. Robust chemical screens which can be automated are a key part of that discovery process. Hitherto, the successful automation of nematode behaviours has been a bottleneck in the chemical discovery process. As the measurement of nematode motility can provide a direct scalar readout of the activity of the neuromuscular system and an indirect measure of the health of the animal, this omission is acute. Motility offers a useful assay for high-throughput, phenotypic drug/chemical screening and several recent developments have helped realise, at least in part, the potential of nematode-based drug screening. Here we review the challenges encountered in automating nematode motility and some important developments in the application of machine vision, statistical imaging and tracking approaches which enable the automated characterisation of nematode movement. Such developments facilitate automated screening for new drugs and chemicals aimed at controlling human and animal nematode parasites (anthelmintics) and plant nematode parasites (nematicides).