Following clinical trial evidence of mammography screening's efficacy and effectiveness, data are needed from organized population-based programmes to determine whether screening in these programmes results in breast cancer mortality reductions comparable to those demonstrated in controlled settings. The International Breast Cancer Screening Network (IBSN) conducted two international programme assessments: in 1990 among nine countries and in 1995 among 22 countries, obtaining information on the organization and process for screening within breast cancer screening programmes. This manuscript describes procedures for recruitment, service delivery, interpretation and communication of results, case ascertainment, and quality assurance. Practices in more established programmes are compared with pilot programmes. Each IBSN country defined a unique programme of population-based breast cancer screening. Some programmes were sub-national rather than national in scope, while others were in pilot stages of development. Screening took place in dedicated centres in established programmes and in both dedicated and general radiology centres in pilot programmes. Although most countries used personal invitation systems to recruit women to screening, other recruitment mechanisms were used. Most countries used two-view mammography in their screening programmes. About half had implemented independent double reading of mammograms, considering it a key component of high-quality mammography screening. In conclusion, diversity exists in the organization and delivery of screening mammography internationally. Quality assurance activities are a priority and are being evaluated in the IBSN.