U.S. Regulations and Requirements

Listed below are the regulations governing the use of animals in research in the United States.

The Animal Welfare Act

In the United States, the Animal Welfare Act regulates the care and use of animals in many areas, including animal research. The Act has been modified and updated several times since its adoption in 1966, and currently covers all warm-blooded animals except rats, mice and birds, and farm animals used in food and fiber research.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), oversees compliance with the Act. APHIS maintains a pool of investigators who inspect animal research facilities at least once a year and report their findings to the USDA and the public. Those not in compliance with the Act may be fined or have their licenses revoked. More information on APHIS can be found on their Web site at


Public Health Service Policy

Hundreds of research institutions receive support through the United States Public Health Service (PHS) for research involving animals. These institutions must provide extensive written documentation (referred to as "assurance") of their compliance with the "PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals." Copies of the PHS Policy are available from the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, National Institutes of Health, telephone 301.496.7163. Or visit their Web site at


The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

The Animal Welfare Act requires U.S. institutions to have an "Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee" (IACUC) to review and approve or deny every protocol and research project that involves animals. The IACUC plays a major role in ensuring that research animals are being responsibly used and cared for in a humane manner. Click here for more information for IACUCs.


State and local regulations

In addition to federal regulations, institutions using animals in research, teaching or testing may be subject to additional state and local laws. State and local legislatures should be consulted for more details.



In the United States, many organizations involved in animal research have published their own guidelines related to animal care, use, or specific procedures. The most well known is the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide), published by the National Research Council, and most recently revised in 2011. The Guide is one of Three Primary Standards* used by AAALAC's Council on Accreditation to evaluate animal programs, and is widely recognized throughout the international scientific community. Click here for more information on the Guide.

Another of AAALAC's Three Primary Standards is the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (Ag Guide), American Dairy Science Association®, the American Society of Animal Science, and the Poultry Science Association 2020. More information on the Ag Guide is available by clicking here.

*(Click here for details on AAALAC's Three Primary Standards.)

Other widely accepted guidelines include the American Veterinary Medical Association's "Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia," and the American Journal of Veterinary Research's "Guidelines for Animal Surgery in Research and Teaching." Copies of these publications and a list of additional resources and guidelines are available in the Reference Resources section of AAALAC's Web site.


More information on animal law

The National Association for Biomedical Research has a web site with detailed information on all aspects of animal law in the United States. Visit

Georgetown University Law Center also has a section on Animal Law at:

Also see international regulations and resources ...

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