NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

National Research Council (US) Committee for the Update of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. 8th edition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.

Cover of Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. 8th edition.

Show details


The purpose of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide), as expressed in the charge to the Committee for the Update of the Guide, is to assist institutions in caring for and using animals in ways judged to be scientifically, technically, and humanely appropriate. The Guide is also intended to assist investigators in fulfilling their obligation to plan and conduct animal experiments in accord with the highest scientific, humane, and ethical principles. Recommendations in the Guide are based on published data, scientific principles, expert opinion, and experience with methods and practices that have proved to be consistent with both high-quality research and humane animal care and use. These recommendations should be used as a foundation for the development of a comprehensive animal care and use program, recognizing that the concept and application of performance standards, in accordance with goals, outcomes, and considerations defined in the Guide, is essential to this process.

The Guide is an internationally accepted primary reference on animal care and use, and its use is required in the United States by the Public Health Service Policy. It was first published in 1963, under the title Guide for Laboratory Animal Facilities and Care, and was revised in 1965, 1968, 1972, 1978, 1985, and 1996. More than 550,000 copies have been printed since its first publication.

In 2006 an ad hoc committee appointed by the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research recommended that the Guide be updated. The Committee for the Update of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals was appointed in 2008 by the National Research Council; its 13 members included research scientists, veterinarians, and nonscientists representing biomedical ethics and the public’s interest in animal welfare. The Committee widely solicited written and oral comments on the update of the Guide from the scientific community and the general public; comments at open meetings (on September 26, 2008, in Washington, DC; October 16, 2008, in Irvine, California; and November 14, 2008, in Chicago) as well as written comments submitted to or requested by the Committee were considered. In addition, the Committee studied the materials submitted to NIH in response to its 2005 Request for Information (NOT-OD-06-011). All comments contributed substantially to this eighth edition of the Guide.

In approaching its task, the Committee carried forward the balance between ethical and science-based practice that has always been the basis of the Guide, and fulfilled its role to provide an updated resource that enables the research community to proceed responsibly and in a self-regulatory manner with animal experimentation. The Guide is predicated on the understanding that the exercise of professional judgment both upholds the central notion of performance standards and obviates the need for more stringent regulations.

Laboratory animal science is a rapidly evolving field and the Committee identified a number of areas in which current available scientific information is insufficient; additional objective information and assessment are needed to provide a scientific basis for recommendations in future editions of the Guide. Although pursuing these concepts was beyond this Committee’s charge, the following two topics merit further study: (1) space and housing needs of laboratory species and (2) the need and best methods for providing enrichment, exercise, and human contact.

The need for continual updating of the Guide is implicit in its objective “to provide information that will enhance animal well-being, the quality of research, and the advancement of scientific knowledge that is relevant to both humans and animals” (Chapter 1). The irregular and increasing intervals between updates, reaching a 14-year gap between the seventh edition and this eighth edition, mean that important new research findings might wait more than a decade before being reflected in recommended practice. Addressing this concern was beyond the charge of this Committee; we noted, however, that regular and more frequent updates of the information in the Guide will promote laboratory animal welfare and support high-quality scientific data. A formal process for revising the information in the Guide, including the updating of practice standards, could meet this need.

In undertaking this update, the Committee acknowledged the contributions of William I. Gay and Bennett J. Cohen in the development of the original Guide. In 1959, Animal Care Panel (ACP) President Cohen appointed the Committee on Ethical Considerations in the Care of Laboratory Animals to evaluate animal care and use. That Committee was chaired by Dr. Gay, who soon recognized that the Committee could not evaluate animal care programs objectively without appropriate criteria on which to base its evaluations—that is, standards were needed. The ACP Executive Committee agreed, and the Professional Standards Committee was appointed. NIH later awarded the ACP a contract to “determine and establish a professional standard for laboratory animal care and facilities.” Dr. Cohen chaired the ACP Animal Facilities Standards Committee, which prepared the first Guide for Laboratory Animal Facilities and Care.

This edition of the Guide was financially supported by the National Institutes of Health; the Office of Research Integrity, Department of Health and Human Services; the US Department of Agriculture (USDA); the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International; the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science; Abbott Fund; Pfizer, Inc.; the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine; the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners; and the Association of Primate Veterinarians.

The Committee for the Update of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals expresses its appreciation to the Animal Welfare Information Center, National Agricultural Library, USDA, for its assistance in compiling bibliographies and references. This task would have been formidable without the help of the Center’s staff. Appreciation is also extended to the reviewers of this volume, to Rhonda Haycraft for providing exemplary administrative and logistical assistance, and especially to Lida Anestidou, Study Director, who, through extraordinary patience, persistence, and scientific insight, managed the process from beginning to end.

Readers who detect errors of omission or commission are invited to send corrections and suggestions to the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, National Research Council, 500 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001.

Janet C. Garber, Chair

Committee for the Update of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK54053


  • PubReader
  • Print View
  • Cite this Page
  • PDF version of this title (1.1M)

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...