The Department of Defense (DoD) Global Laboratory-Based Influenza Surveillance Program was initiated in 1997 to formally consolidate and expand existing influenza surveillance programs within the DoD and in areas where DoD was working. Substantial changes in 2008 provided an opportunity to review the operation of the surveillance program as it existed during seven complete influenza seasons (1998-2005); the review was conducted in 2008. A unique aspect of the DoD program was the global reach for specimen collection and the ability to rapidly ship, process, and evaluate specimens from 27 countries. The resulting epidemiologic data combined with the culture results from >46,000 patients provided information that was shared with similar national and international programs, such as those of the CDC. Likewise, selected influenza isolates were molecularly characterized and shared with the CDC to be compared with other surveillance programs. Timeliness of the samples contributed to the information available for annual influenza vaccine selection.