The WHO Advisory Committee on Health Research (ACHR) is committed to the notion that WHO should exemplify best practice in use of research evidence to inform decisions about health. A major ongoing initiative of the ACHR is the Sub-committee on the Use of Research Evidence (SURE). This group is examining WHOs roles and responsibilities in the use of health research to inform decisions about health. WHOs leadership has expressed strong support for this initiative. The series of articles being published in Health Research Policy and Systems, which examine the methods used by WHO and other organisations to formulate recommendations about health, is part of the background documentation SURE has produced to inform ACHRs advice to WHO. It is critical that health policy makers look to research, not ignorance, as the basis for action in health, and that health professionals look to evidence, not opinion, as the basis for delivery of care.