From a small collection of medical publications in the Surgeon General's Office in 1836, the National Library of Medicine has developed into the leading repository of medical information in the world. Despite strong opposition and impediments from certain quarters, involving considerable machinations and intrigue, the determination of interested medical leaders and sympathetic members of Congress triumphed in having this remarkable institution established on the campus of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. As a participant in many of the negotiations preceding that decision, I have happily witnessed the transformation of the Library, long housed in cramped, makeshift quarters, to its present magnificent structures in the heart of our nation's foremost medical research center. Its prodigious collection of print, audiovisual, and electronic information; its imaginative research projects; its excellent outreach program; and its innovative services and products are indispensable to all practicing health professionals, scientists, and medical educators, as well as to journalists, government officials, and others. The ultimate beneficiary, of course, is the patient.