THE ARMY'S research on biological agents has escalated dramatically since 1980 and raised concerns in the scientific and medical communities about its propriety, utility, and safety. In an article in this issue of The Journal regarding chemical and biological warfare, Orient1 asks whether defenses should be researched. Defenses are, of course, being researched, but some of this research may undermine the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which bans the use and development of biological weapons. We will comment on some aspects of the current US Biological Defense Research Program and suggest ways that physicians can be sure that research on biological agents, if it is necessary, is safe, appropriate, and likely to decrease rather than increase the threat of a biological arms race. We propose changes in responsibility for some biological defense research, more openness in the conduct of research, and reinforcement of the 1972 treaty.