Despite the social and economic importance of biomedical and health research, it is only fairly recently that the European Community became involved in research and technological development in this research sector. The general goal of the programme is clearly to contribute to a better quality of life by improving health, and its distinctive feature is to strengthen European collaboration in order to achieve this goal. The ultimate goal of the biomedical engineering part of the programme has been to contribute to the improvement of the quality of health care, as well as to the containment of its costs. Health technology assessment has gained further importance in view of the completion of the internal market within the EC. Such assessment may provide essential information for decision making at all levels (i.e. political, health services, medical).