Embankment dams with asphalt concrete face have been used already 100 years; in the XX-th century, several hundreds of such embankment dams were built. However, asphalt concrete coatings were primarily used in Europe, and in other countries, including Russia, they were not widely used. For assessing advantages and disadvantages and prospects of further use of asphalt concrete face in embankment dams, the authors analyzed the development of these structures in a historical retrospective. For compiling a historical survey, there were used hard-to-get publications of the previous years. Results. The experience of the first half of the XX-th century in using bituminous materials in embankment dams showed that asphalt concrete faces showed the greatest safety and effectiveness. In the 1950-s there were developed typical reliable methods of creating asphalt concrete faces. Their implementation permitted considerably wider use of asphalt concrete faces in embankment dams. However, using asphalt concrete faces is still restricted due to the negative impact of temperature effects on asphalt concrete properties. More often, the seepage-control elements of embankment dams are made as asphalt concrete diaphragms or geo-membranes. The article gives information about cases of asphalt concrete failures; their disadvantages are analyzed and several methods of their overcoming. Conclusion. Experience in the operation of modern asphalt concrete faces evidence about the safety of these structures, but further refinement is required for widening the sphere of their use.