Animal cell technology has undergone a rapid transformation over the last decade from a research tool and highly specialised technology to a central resource for innovation in pharmaceutical research and development. These proceedings of the 14th Meeting of the European Society for Animal Cell Technology (Vilamoura, Portugal, May 1996) bring up to date the historical perspective of animal cell technology for the benefit of society, `From Vaccines to Genetic Medicine', and will charter this vital technology for the years to come. Strong contributions are grouped in the traditional ESACT areas of 'Cell and Physiology Engineering' dealing with cell state, including genetics, and its environment, and 'Animal Cell Process Engineering' covering integration of bioreaction with bioseparation coupled with on-line monitoring to improve protein production and consistency. Extensive coverage of metabolic engineering on synthesis, folding, assembly, transiting and secretion is dealt with in the session on 'Recombinant Proteins: Biosynthesis and Bioprocessing'. Two traditional but expanding areas of animal cell technology relevance are highlighted in the broad sessions of 'Animal Cells as Tools for Discovery and Testing' and 'Animal Cell Vaccines: Present and Future'. Two sessions finally cover the more recent domains of animal cell technology work - 'Tissue Engineering and Biomedical Devices' and 'Cells and Vectors for Genetic Medicine' - where one can foresee a very bright future.