A brief history of occupational health is presented contrasting development in the United States with European experiences. Recent legislation is reviewed, including attempts to amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act and to institute a national program of workers' compensation. Developments in OSHA, NIOSH, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration are discussed; attention is focused on occupational health standards formulated for lead (7439921) and cotton dust. Several scientific issues are reviewed. They include problems surrounding the latency period between exposure and the onset of disease, synergistic actions between competing carcinogens, introduction of new hazards to the workplace; and reproductive effects of toxic exposures. Three policy issues are reviewed: control technology, information for workers, and occupational physician responsibility. Areas requiring future research are cited, including development of sophisticated medical surveillance projects for early detection of disease, growth of labor/management cooperation in surveillance and reduction of occupational risks, and evolution of an integrated occupational health program.