We examine the process of internationalisation of firms, contributing to the knowledge on the factors behind a successful entry and operation in the export markets using duration analysis. Rich longitudinal microlevel data on Finnish manufacturing plants allow an indepth analysis of the life cycle of exporting plants over a time span of up to 25 years. In the first part of the analysis, we focus on the factors that explain the duration of time until entering plants start to export. The second part of the study concentrates on the duration of time until exit from the export markets. Our special focus is on the effects of foreign ownership, human capital and industry spillovers on export market entry and exit.