Laboratory Animals

Close-up of a squirrel monkey face

This page contains information on federal legislation, regulations, policies and guidelines affecting laboratory animals used in research, testing, and teaching.



Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act was signed into law in 1966. While its original intent was to regulate the care and use of animals in the laboratory, it has become the only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers.


Health Research Extension Act of 1985

DHHS. National Institutes of Health.

Public Law 99-158, November 20, 1985, "Animals In Research"


AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia (PDF | 160 KB)

American Veterinary Medical Association.

This 2013 report provides recommendations to give veterinarians guidance in relieving pain and suffering of animals that are to be euthanatized. (NOTE: This documents updates the previous guidelines published in 2007).


Animal Care Policies Specific to Dogs or Cats

USDA. APHIS. Animal Care.


International Guiding Principles for Biomedical Research Involving Animals (PDF | 140 KB)

Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS).

Often referred to as the CIOMS Principles, this document provides criteria for establishing codes of practice or legislation about the use of animals in scientific research. Text of the 1985 guidelines is available here. *UPDATED


Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Research Animals

National Research Council.

Meeting the regulatory and animal welfare requirements of research animals in transport can be a complex task. This report recommends best practices for the care of animals in transit including species specific recommendations, thermal requirements, space requirements, and more.


The Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals and Farm Animal Worker Training Programs

Federation for Animal Science Societies

This site contains the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research and Teaching (Ag Guide), and species-specific educational modules for livestock, poultry, and horses.


Animal Care Policies Specific to Nonhuman Primates

USDA. APHIS. Animal Care.


Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th Edition

National Research Council.

Updated 2011 - Provides information that will enhance animal well-being, the quality of biomedical research, and the advancement of biologic knowledge that is relevant to humans or animals. The previous version (published in 1996) is still available online.


Animal Care Inspection Manual

USDA. APHIS. Animal Care.

The reference manual used by Animal Care inspectors to ensure a uniform inspection process of licensed and registered animal facilities.


2008 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Design Requirements Manual for Biomedical Laboratories and Animal Research Facilities

National Institutes of Health. Office of Research Facilities.

Provides design requirements and guidance for biomedical research laboratories and animal research facilities in the US.


NIH, Animal Research Advisory Committee (ARAC) Guidelines

National Institutes of Health. Office of Animal Care and Use.

Includes guidelines for animal care procedures (including animal transport, ascites production, toe clipping, diet control, and humane endpoints), animal care and use committees, and facility management.


Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

National Institutes of Health. Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare

Includes the U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training as well as the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (Public Law 99-158, "Animals in Research," November 20, 1985), which provides the statutory mandate for the PHS Policy.


ARS Animal Care and Use Policies

USDA. Research, Education, and Economics.

Policies and procedures for animal care at ARS facilities.


Guidelines for Endpoints in Animal Study Proposals (PDF | 44 KB)

DHHS. NIH. Office of Animal Care and Use.

This document states that selection of appropriate endpoints requires careful consideration of the study's scientific requirements, possible pain, distress or illness the research animals may experience, the most likely time course and progression of those adverse effects, and the earliest most predictive indicators of present or impending adverse effects.


NASA Principles for the Ethical Care and Use of Animals

National Air and Space Administration.

The following principles are offered to guide careful and considered discussion of the ethical challenges that arise in the course of animal research, a process that must balance risks, burdens and benefits


Recommended Procedures Regarding the CPSC's Policy on Animal Testing

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), animal testing is not mandatory; it is one possible option that can be used to determine the biological response and appropriate cautionary labeling for a consumer product. The Commission's policy is to find alternatives to animal testing and to reduce the number of animals tested and decrease the pain and suffering associated with testing of household products in animals. As such, the Commission strongly supports the use of scientifically validated alternatives to animal testing and the use of existing information, including expert opinion, prior human experience, and prior animal testing results, in the determination of hazard. CPSC is a member of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM), and as such, supports the development and use of validated alternative test methods.