To assess the state of the art of venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism for the medical and other health-related professions, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Society and Federation of Cardiology (ISFC) convened a task force in Geneva, Switzerland. Members of the task force prepared position papers and presented brief oral presentations. A report was subsequently prepared by the task force members, who contributed sections in their areas of expertise. Revisions of the report occurred both during the task force meeting itself in Geneva and during the ensuing months. The final report was approved by the WHO-ISFC Task Force on Pulmonary Embolism Steering Committee. More quantitative information is needed on the frequency of venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in hospitalized medical patients as well as in outpatients at high risk. Population studies should focus on incidence, survival, and long-term complications in different parts of the world with respect to gender and race. Further educational efforts are needed to increase awareness about venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism prophylaxis. Finally, research into effective techniques for changing physician practice would be useful.