The National Center for Biomedical Ontology (NCBO) is one of the National Centers for Biomedical Computing funded under the NIH Roadmap Initiative. Contributing to the national computing infrastructure, NCBO has developed BioPortal, a web portal that provides access to a library of biomedical ontologies and terminologies (http://bioportal.bioontology.org) via the NCBO Web services. BioPortal enables community participation in the evaluation and evolution of ontology content by providing features to add mappings between terms, to add comments linked to specific ontology terms and to provide ontology reviews. The NCBO Web services (http://www.bioontology.org/wiki/index.php/NCBO_REST_services) enable this functionality and provide a uniform mechanism to access ontologies from a variety of knowledge representation formats, such as Web Ontology Language (OWL) and Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies (OBO) format. The Web services provide multi-layered access to the ontology content, from getting all terms in an ontology to retrieving metadata about a term. Users can easily incorporate the NCBO Web services into software applications to generate semantically aware applications and to facilitate structured data collection.