The primary objective of the experiment was to determine whether a specific portion of the high Z-high energy (HZE)* galactic cosmic ray particle spectrum, especially particles with Z greater than or equal to 6, can produce microscopically visible injury of brain and eye tissues. Pocket mice (Perognathus longimembris), obtained from the California desert, were selected as the biological target. Five of these mice were flown on Apollo XVII. Not only the brain and eyes but also many other tissues of these animals were studied for evidence of cosmic ray particle damage. The lack of prior experimental evidence as to the character of the potential injury induced by HZE particles required reliance on the physical characteristics of particle radiation in ascertaining the probable nature of the injruy. These characteristics and the key aspects of the experiment are summarized in this paper. Subsequent articles in this special supplement give details of the biological, engineering, and dosimetric aspects of BIOCORE together with the results.