The global burden of injuries is enormous, but has often been overlooked in attempts to improve health. We review measures that would strengthen existing efforts to prevent and treat injuries worldwide. Scientifically-based efforts to understand risk factors for the occurrence of injury are needed and they must be translated into prevention programmes that are well designed and assessed. Areas for potential intervention include environmental modification, improved engineering features of motor vehicle and other products, and promotion of safe behaviours through social marketing, legislation, and law enforcement. Treatment efforts need to better define the most high-yield services and to promote these in the form of essential health services. To achieve these changes, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of national institutions to do research on injury control; to design and implement countermeasures that address injury risk factors and deficiencies in injury treatment; and to assess the effectiveness of such countermeasures. Although much work remains to be done in high-income countries, even greater attention is needed in less-developed countries, where injury rates are higher, few injury control activities have been undertaken, and where most of the world's population lives. In almost all areas, injury rates are especially high in the most vulnerable sections of the community, including those of low socioeconomic status. Injury control activities should, therefore, be undertaken in a context of attention to human rights and other broad social issues.