The experiment was launched in the early 1990s. The primary physics goal – the search for direct CP violation – was inherited from the predecessor NA31 experiment. The physics data taking runs took place between 1997 and 2001. The discovery of the phenomenon of direct CP violation, one of the most important experimental results ever obtained at CERN, was announced by the collaboration in 1999. The publication of the final result was made in 2001. In addition the experiment made a large contribution to studies of rare decays of neutral kaons.
The following stage of the experiment (NA48/1) was carried out in 2002 and was devoted to high precision study of rare decays of kaons and neutral hyperons. The next stage (NA48/2) was carried out in 2003–2004 and was dedicated to a large programme of studies of properties of charged kaons, including the search of direct CP violation, studies of rare decays of the charged kaon, and low-energy QCD using final state rescattering.
The successor of NA48 is the NA62 experiment. It took the first data in 2007–2008 to measure the ratio of Ke2/Kμ2[clarification needed] decay rates. In future the NA62 experiment will focus on ultra-rare decays of the charged kaons.