Acute lung injury (ALI) is well defined in humans, but there is no agreement as to the main features of acute lung injury in animal models. A Committee was organized to determine the main features that characterize ALI in animal models and to identify the most relevant methods to assess these features. We used a Delphi approach in which a series of questionnaires were distributed to a panel of experts in experimental lung injury. The Committee concluded that the main features of experimental ALI include histological evidence of tissue injury, alteration of the alveolar capillary barrier, presence of an inflammatory response, and evidence of physiological dysfunction; they recommended that, to determine if ALI has occurred, at least three of these four main features of ALI should be present. The Committee also identified key "very relevant" and "somewhat relevant" measurements for each of the main features of ALI and recommended the use of least one "very relevant" measurement and preferably one or two additional separate measurements to determine if a main feature of ALI is present. Finally, the Committee emphasized that not all of the measurements listed can or should be performed in every study, and that measurements not included in the list are by no means "irrelevant." Our list of features and measurements of ALI is intended as a guide for investigators, and ultimately investigators should choose the particular measurements that best suit the experimental questions being addressed as well as take into consideration any unique aspects of the experimental design.