At the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Sciences hosted a U.S.-USSR bilateral symposium in December 1986 (Comprehensive Analysis of the Environment). The meeting was fifth in a series of symposia on the topic and was part of an ongoing project within the framework of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environment Protection between EPA and the USSR State Committee for Hydrometeorology and Control of the Natural Environment (Hydromet). The symposium's goal was to help clarify the various factors which influence the quality of the environment, including the impact of pollutants on the ecosystem and human health, the influence of human activity on the biosphere, and the scientific basis for determining ecological resilience. A general session addressed approaches and basic concepts, while technical sessions covered such topics as monitoring approaches and technology, regional-scale case studies, management applications, and global monitoring strategies. Future directions for joint research were discussed at the closing session.