A government perspective on prevention of musculoskeletal disorders as perceived by NIOSH was presented. NIOSH identified ten leading work related disorders; two of these disorders were chronic musculoskeletal and acute trauma disorders caused by exposure to manual load handling, repetitive motion, or vibration. Short and long term objectives of the NIOSH musculoskeletal injury prevention strategy were described. Low back injury, the leading musculoskeletal disorder in the United States, was discussed. Etiology and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders were considered. NIOSH research strategy from the perspective of the Division of Safety Research in the development of effective prevention strategies for occupational musculoskeletal disorders was presented. Selected occupational safety research topics were highlighted. The topics included clinical investigation, the NIOSH low back evaluation system, laboratory investigations, and field investigations. NIOSH field studies on back injuries were reviewed.