Low frequency noise measurements (f<10Hz) are a powerful tool for the investigation of the quality and reliability of electron devices and material. In most cases, however, the application of this technique is made quite difficult both because of the effect of external interferences (temperature fluctuations, EMI, mechanical vibrations, etc.) and because of the high level of flicker noise of the commercial instrumentation. In this paper the most remarkable results we obtained by using low frequency noise measurements for the characterization of the reliability of VLSI metallic interconnections and thin oxides are resumed. Moreover, we discuss the effects of the several sources of noise and interferences which contribute to reduce the sensitivity of the measurement chain. In particular, we demonstrate that by means of a proper design, dedicated instrumentation can be built which allows for a considerable reduction of the overall background noise. Examples will be given with reference to voltage and transresistance amplifiers (both AC and DC coupled), to programmable biasing systems (both current and voltage sources), to thermal stabilization systems and to data acquisition systems. Finally, we will discuss methods which may allow, in proper conditions, to accurately measure noise levels well below the background noise of the input preamplifiers coupled to the device under test. As the systems we discuss are characterized by moderate complexity and employ components readily available on the market, we trust that this paper may also serve as a simple guideline to anyone interested in exploiting the possibility of using very low frequency noise measurements by building his own instrumentation.