When Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote "To guard is better than to heal, the shield is nobler than the spear!" he must have had in mind the origin, many years later, of the poison control center movement. In 1952, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), through a survey by its newly appointed Committee on Accident Prevention, found that the most common medical emergency in children was poisoning. The study brought forth many requests for up-to-date information on toxic ingredients in household products, as well as for improved therapeutic measures. This gave impetus to the development and implementation of poison control centers in the United States, an endeavor practically all-pediatric oriented. Then, the development of safety closures and packaging and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act in 1970 rapidly followed. This is a historical account of the AAP's role and the combined efforts of practicing and academic pediatricians in a mid-20th century movement that has saved countless children's lives.