Free entropy is a quantity introduced 20 years ago by D. Voiculescu in order to investigate noncommutative probability spaces (e.g. von Neumann algebras). It is based on approximation by finite size matrices. I will describe the definition and main properties of this quantity as well as applications to von Neumann algebras. I will also explain a new approach based on work with Y. Dabrowski, using random matrices, which leads to the solution of some problems concerning this quantity.