In response to the News report “Austria taken to court for inadequate laws on animal welfare” (Nature 403, 582; 2000), I would like to explain the legal situation. Animal experiments in Austria are regulated on the federal level by the Animal Experiments Act. Passed in 1989, well before Austria's accession to the European Union in 1995, this law was drawn up to conform with the Animal Experiment Directive (86/609/EEC), even though at that time Austria was not obliged to do so. The act was amended last year. Animal welfare is regulated at provincial level, and all nine provinces have animal welfare legislation.

The Animal Experiments Act empowers the competent Federal Ministers to regulate technical matters by ministerial ordinance. Ordinances laying down specific rules (for example, covering research centres that breed animals on their own premises) are currently under consultation. As soon as they come into force, the last minor deficiencies in transposing the Directive will have been eliminated.