We develop the concept of Rokhlin dimension for integer and for finite group actions on C*-algebras. Our notion generalizes the so-called Rokhlin property, which can be thought of as Rokhlin dimension 0. We show that finite Rokhlin dimension is prevalent and appears in cases in which the Rokhlin property cannot be expected: the property of having finite Rokhlin dimension is generic for automorphisms of Z-stable C*-algebras, where Z denotes the Jiang–Su algebra. Moreover, crossed products by automorphisms with finite Rokhlin dimension preserve the property of having finite nuclear dimension, and under a mild additional hypothesis also preserve Z -stability. In topological dynamics our notion may be interpreted as a topological version of the classical Rokhlin lemma: automorphisms arising from minimal homeomorphisms of finite dimensional compact metrizable spaces always have finite Rokhlin dimension. The latter result has by now been generalized by Szabó to the case of free and aperiodic Z-actions on compact metrizable and finite dimensional spaces.