In the 1970s and the early 1980s the emphasis of Federally-sponsored oil spill research was on mechanical spill control devices and removal methods such as booms, skimmers, and sorbents, with later efforts also focused on dispersing agents. The preponderance of the work was directed toward oil spills in open ocean and coastal areas. Private research programs and field experience also contributed to the extensive knowledge-base capabilities and limitations of mechanical and chemical oil spill control and cleanup methods. In fiscal 1988, research and development in prevention and cleanup of oil spills was suspended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in favor of other high priority topics. However, recent events have shown that further research is needed on preventing and cleanup methods, especially for inland spills. Furthermore, innovations developed since the early 1980s have yet to be evaluated in a controlled setting, even in the open sea. The paper presents topics for an oil spill research and development agenda through the beginning of the 1990s that will help to fill those voids in the areas of spill prevention and response.