The potential of agent-based systems has not been realized yet, in part, because of the lack of understanding how the agent technology support industrial needs and emerging standards. The area of business-to-business electronic commerce (b2b e-commerce) is one of the most rapidly developing sectors of industry with huge impact on manufacturing practices. Our intent in this paper is to investigate the current state of agent technology and the feasibility of applying agent-based computing to b2b e-commerce in the circuit board manufacturing sector. We identify critical tasks and opportunities in the b2b e-commerce area where agent-based services can best be deployed. We describe an implemented agent-based system to facilitate the bidding process for printed circuit board manufacturing and assembly. These activities are taking place within the Internet Commerce for Manufacturing (ICM) project, the NIST-sponsored project working with industry to create an environment where small manufacturers of mechanical and electronic components may participate competitively in virtual enterprises that manufacture printed circuit assemblies.