Academic-industry relationships in the life sciences remain controversial. The available evidence suggests that such relationships have both benefits and risks for involved parties. Benefits include additional support of academic research, income for academic health centers, the potential for increased scientific and commercial productivity in both industries and universities, and enhancement of the educational experiences of students and fellows. Risks include an increase in secrecy in academic environments and damage to public support for the life science enterprise. The balance of known benefits and risks suggests that academic-industry relationships should be permitted and even selectively promoted. However, there is also a need for enhanced vigilance on the part of academic institutions and government to reduce risks posed by certain types of arrangements, especially those involving human subjects. Enhanced vigilance should include disclosure of all academic-industry relationships by life science faculty.