The paper presents the background, objectives and methods of a European concerted action project aimed at exploring the transmission of information to parents and the ethical decision-making process in neonatal intensive care from the perspective of health personnel, and in relation to the legal, cultural, social and ethical backgrounds of the various European countries. Eight countries are taking part in the project (France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom), which is about to be extended also to Central and Eastern Europe (Estonia, Lithuania and Hungary). In each of them, the medical and nursing personnel of a number of randomly selected units will be interviewed through an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire. Information on the organisation and policies of the Units and on the national legislation will also be collected. The key features of the study lie in the multidisciplinary and international approach, the random selection of the sample as a guarantee of representativeness and lack of selection bias, the focus on the staff practices as well as on their attitudes and opinions.