Significant progress has been made in recent years on the development of gravitational-wave detectors. Sources such as coalescing compact binary systems, neutron stars in low-mass X-ray binaries, stellar collapses and pulsars are all possible candidates for detection. The most promising design of gravitational-wave detector uses test masses a long distance apart and freely suspended as pendulums on Earth or in drag-free spacecraft. The main theme of this review is a discussion of the mechanical and optical principles used in the various long baseline systems in operation around the world – LIGO (USA), Virgo (Italy/France), TAMA300 and LCGT (Japan), and GEO600 (Germany/U.K.) – and in LISA, a proposed space-borne interferometer. A review of recent science runs from the current generation of ground-based detectors will be discussed, in addition to highlighting the astrophysical results gained thus far. Looking to the future, the major upgrades to LIGO (Advanced LIGO), Virgo (Advanced Virgo), LCGT and GEO600 (GEO-HF) will be completed over the coming years, which will create a network of detectors with the significantly improved sensitivity required to detect gravitational waves. Beyond this, the concept and design of possible future “third generation” gravitational-wave detectors, such as the Einstein Telescope (ET), will be discussed.