The competence of critical care staff when it comes to death and organ donation can make the difference between a family's agreeing to or refusing the latter. Doctors and nurses often feel uncomfortable approaching relatives about donation and attribute this to a lack of training. Bereaved relatives express dissatisfaction with inappropriate communication and support when brain death is announced and thereafter when a request for donation is made. The European Donor Hospital Education Programme (EDHEP) was designed to meet the training needs of critical care staff in breaking bad news, caring for the bereaved, and requesting donation. EDHEP is a two-part educational package consisting of a presentation about the donor shortage followed by a one-day workshop. The implementation of EDHEP throughout the world has been facilitated through effective national working groups and standardised "train the trainer" courses. Several countries anecdotally report increases in donation following implementation. Controlled evaluation of the effect(s) of EDHEP, which started at the end of 1995, focuses on the satisfaction of the participants with EDHEP, on the competence of the participants in breaking bad news and requesting donation, on the teamwork regarding death and donation, on the satisfaction of bereaved relatives, and on organ donation rates.