This paper is designed to interest analysts and probabilists in the methods of the `other' field applied to a problem important in biology and in other contexts. It does not strive for generality. After section 1 a, it concentrates on the simplest case of a coupled reaction-diffusion equation. It provides a complete treatment of the existence, uniqueness, and asymptotic behaviour of monotone travelling waves to various equilibria, both by differential-equation theory and by probability theory. Each approach raises interesting questions about the other. The differential-equation treatment makes new use of the maximum principle for this type of problem. It suggests a numerical method of solution which yields computer pictures which illustrate the situation very clearly. The probabilistic treatment is careful in its proofs of martingale (as opposed to merely local-martingale) properties. A new change-of-measure technique is used to obtain the best lower bound on the speed of the monotone travelling wave with Heaviside initial conditions. Waves to different equilibria are shown to be related by Doob h-transforms. Large-deviation theory provides heuristic links between alternative descriptions of minimum wave speeds, rigorous algebraic proofs of which are provided. Since the paper was submitted, an alternative method of proving existence of monotone travelling waves has been developed by Karpelevich et al. (1993). We have extended our results in different directions from theirs (one of which is hinted at in section 1 a), and have found the methods used here well equipped for these generalizations. See the Addendum.