The term 'biological resources' is applied to the living biological material collected, held and catalogued in culture collections: bacterial and fungal cultures; animal, human and plant cells; viruses; and isolated genetic material. A wealth of information on these materials has been accumulated in culture collections, and most of this information is accessible. Digitalisation of data has reached a high level; however, information is still dispersed. Individual and coordinated approaches have been initiated to improve accessibility of biological resource centres, their holdings and related information through the Internet. These approaches cover subjects such as standardisation of data handling and data accessibility, and standardisation and quality control of laboratory procedures. This article reviews some of the most important initiatives implemented so far, as well as the most recent achievements. It also discusses the possible improvements that could be achieved by adopting new communication standards and technologies, such as web services, in view of a deeper and more fruitful integration of biological resources information in the bioinformatics network environment.