Reflection seismic data require large volumes of digital storage at a great cost to the seismic industry. This cost could be reduced if a compression technique suitable to these data was found. Data compression using the singular value decomposition is examined here in an attempt to reduce this cost. When any significant compression factor was used, this compression technique reconstructed the original data poorly because dipping events and high-frequency detail were lost. While other seismic data may be compressed with this method, the compression of reflection seismic data with the singular-value-decomposition technique is not practical.