With rapidly increasing access to antiretroviral drugs globally, HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) has become a significant public health issue. This requires a coordinated and collaborative response from country level to international level to assess the extent of HIVDR and the establishment of efficient and evidence-based strategies to minimize its appearance and onward transmission. In parallel with the rollout of universal access to HIV treatment, countries are developing protocols based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) to measure, at a population level, both transmitted HIVDR and HIVDR emerging during treatment. The WHO in collaboration with international experts (HIVResNet Laboratory Working Group), has developed a laboratory strategy, which has the overall goal of delivering quality-assured HIV genotypic results on specimens derived from the HIVDR surveys. The results will be used to help control the emergence and spread of drug resistance and to guide decision makers on antiretroviral therapy policy at national, regional and global level. The HIVDR Laboratory Strategy developed by the WHO includes several key aspects: the formation of a global network of national, regional and specialized laboratories accredited to perform HIVDR testing using a common set of WHO standard and performance indicators; recommendations of acceptable methods for collection, handling, shipment and storage of specimens in field conditions; and the provision of laboratory technical support, capacity building and quality assurance for network laboratories. The WHO/HIVResNet HIVDR Laboratory Network has been developed along the lines of other successful laboratory networks coordinated by the WHO. As of August 2007, assessment for accreditation has been conducted in 30 laboratories, covering the WHO's African, South-East Asia, Western Pacific, and the Caribbean Regions.