The accrediting agency for U.S. and Canadian medical education programs, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), was founded 50 years ago at a 1942 meeting of leaders of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Medical Association. The author, using sources from the AAMC archives and elsewhere, describes the background, content, and outcomes of this meeting, which was called to devise ways for the two organizations to avoid duplication of effort during the emergency conditions brought about by World War II. The participants met for several specific reasons: to create a united front to protect medical students from the wartime draft, to find economies in carrying out the profession's duties to assure the quality of medical education, and to survey medical schools that were being affected by pressure for continuous sessions and accelerated medical training. At this meeting a joint board for medical school surveys was created; eventually this liaison board became known as the LCME. The author closes with a quote from the 1942 meeting concerning the social responsibility of medical education and notes the continuing importance to translate this and other imperatives into standards for accreditation that protect educational quality and foster its improvement.