This article explores the principles of evidence-based practice and its role in achieving quality improvements within the clinical governance framework advocated by the recent White Papers 'The New NHS: Modern, Dependable' (Department of Health (DoH), 1997) and 'A First Class Service: Quality in the New NHS' (DoH, 1998a). Within these White Papers there is an emphasis on improving quality of care, treatment and services through employing the principles of clinical governance. A major feature of clinical governance is guaranteeing quality to the public and the NHS, and ensuring that clinical, managerial and educational practice is based on scientific evidence. This article also examines what evidence-based practice is and what processes are required to promote effective healthcare interventions. The authors also look at how clinical governance relates to other methods/systems involved in clinical effectiveness. Finally, the importance for nurses and other healthcare professionals of familiarizing themselves with the development of critical appraisal skills, and their implications for developing evidence-based practice, is emphasized.