This report details the proceedings of the 2009 Biospecimen Research Network (BRN) Symposium that took place on March 16 to 18, 2009, the second in a series of annual symposia sponsored by the National Cancer Institute Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research. The BRN Symposium is a public forum addressing the relevance of biospecimen quality to progress in cancer research and the systematic investigation needed to understand how different methods of collection, processing, and storage of human biospecimens affect subsequent molecular research results. More than 300 participants from industry, academia, and government attended the symposium, which featured both formal presentations and a day of workshops aimed at addressing several key issues in biospecimen science. An additional 100 individuals participated via a live webcast (archived at http://brnsymposium.com). The BRN Symposium is part of a larger program designed as a networked, multidisciplinary research approach to increase the knowledge base for biospecimen science. Biospecimens are generally understood to represent an accurate representation of a patient's disease biology, but can instead reflect a combination of disease biology and the biospecimen's response to a wide range of biological stresses. The molecular signatures of disease can thus be confounded by the signatures of biospecimen biological stress, with the potential to affect clinical and research outcomes through incorrect diagnosis of disease, improper use of a given therapy, and irreproducible research results that can lead to misinterpretation of artifacts as biomarkers. Biospecimen research represents the kind of bricks-and-mortar research that provides a solid scientific foundation for future advances that will directly help patients.