Extensive improvements of the interface element method (IEM) are proposed for the efficient treatment of non-matching finite element meshes. Our approach enables us to establish the master element via the moving least-square (MLS) approximation, and so to remove the cumbersome process of constructing interface elements. The values of shape functions and their derivatives are therefore mapped from the master element, as in the conventional finite element method. For the assurance of convergence and compatibility condition, a patch test is demonstrated. Through several examples of 2D linear elasticity, the convergence rate is compared between the present interface element and the previous version. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.