TuBaFrost is the consortium responsible for the creation of a virtual European human frozen tumour tissue bank: a collection of high quality frozen residual, accurately classified tumour tissue samples, which are stored in European cancer centres and universities. This virtual tissue bank, searchable on the internet, has rules for access and use, and a code of conduct to comply with the various legal and ethical regulations in European countries. The easy accessibility and the European scale of the bank will result in the availability of a large number of samples even of rarer tumour types. Standardisation of collection, storage and quality control throughout the network is achieved minimising inter-institutional variability. A website providing access to upload, search and request samples is a key tool of the tissue bank. The search engine makes use of virtual microscopy. An overview of the development of the European virtual frozen tissue bank infrastructure is described in this paper. The various key aspects are described in more detail in a series of articles to appear in this Journal.