The optical microscope remains a widely-used tool for diagnosis and quantitation of malaria. An automated system that can match the performance of well-trained technicians is motivated by a shortage of trained microscopists. We have developed a computer vision system that leverages deep learning to identify malaria parasites in micrographs of standard, field-prepared thick blood films. The prototype application diagnoses P. falciparum with sufficient accuracy to achieve competency level 1 in the World Health Organization external competency assessment, and quantitates with sufficient accuracy for use in drug resistance studies. A suite of new computer vision techniques-global white balance, adaptive nonlinear grayscale, and a novel augmentation scheme-underpin the system’s state-of-the-art performance. We outline a rich, global training set; describe the algorithm in detail; argue for patient-level performance metrics for the evaluation of automated diagnosis methods; and provide results for P. falciparum.