This paper traces the uses of telecommunications in health care from the Civil War era to the present. Topics include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's involvement in the origins of current telemedicine systems and the impact of television. Applications of telemedicine discussed include remote consultation and diagnosis, specialty clinical care (including examples from anesthesia, dermatology, cardiology, psychiatry, radiology, critical care, and oncology), and others (including examples of patient education, home monitoring, and continuing education). The concluding section highlights how telemedicine affects health sciences librarianship, beginning with the development of online computerized literature searching. This section also discusses the medical resources available to health sciences librarians as a result of the Internet.