This paper presents recent work on a multimedia retrieval project at Cambridge University and Olivetti Research Limited (ORL). We present novel techniques that allow extremely rapid audio indexing, at rates approaching several thousand times real time. Unlike other methods, these techniques do not depend on a fixed vocabulary recognition sys- tem or on keywords that must be known well in advance. Using statistical methods developed for text, these indexing techniques allow rapid and efficient retrieval and browsing of audio and video documents. This paper presents the project background, the indexing and retrieval techniques, and a video mail retrieval application incorporating content-based audio indexing, retrieval, and browsing.