Since the identification, in 1996, of the first case of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans various approaches have been implemented and/or proposed to prevent this disease from being transfusion transmitted. In addition, a variety of possible laboratory-based approaches have been developed and will continue to be developed for the vCJD screening of blood donors. Various issues related to the implementation of such vCJD testing is likely to assume greater importance as diagnostic tests for vCJD becomes available for the potential screening of blood donors. The purpose of this Consensus Conference was to bring together international experts in an effort to determine which principles should guide the introduction of such testing. These experts provided the scientific and biological background of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and vCJD, an understanding of their current epidemiology, as well as the ethical and legal issues that would impact on the implementation of a screening test for preventing the transfusion transmission of vCJD. This contentious issue is of potential considerable importance to transfusion medicine personnel worldwide, as well as to future recipients of allogeneic blood components.