The widespread use of digital slides has only recently come to the fore with the development of high-throughput scanners and high performance viewing software. This development, along with the optimisation of compression standards and image transfer techniques, has allowed the technology to be used in wide reaching applications including integration of images into hospital information systems and histopathological training, as well as the development of automated image analysis algorithms for prediction of histological aberrations and quantification of immunohistochemical stains. Here, the use of this technology in the creation of a comprehensive library of images of preclinical toxicological relevance is demonstrated. The images, acquired using the Aperio ScanScope (R) CS and XT slide acquisition systems, form part of the ongoing EU FP6 Integrated Project, Innovative Medicines for Europe (InnoMed). In more detail, PredTox (abbreviation for Predictive Toxicology) is a subproject of InnoMed and comprises a consortium of 15 industrial (13 large pharma, 1 technology provider and 1 SME) and three academic partners. The primary aim of this consortium is to assess the value of combining data generated from 'omics technologies (proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics) with the results from more conventional toxicology methods, to facilitate further informed decision making in preclinical safety evaluation. A library of 1709 scanned images was created of full-face sections of liver and kidney tissue specimens from male Wistar rats treated with 16 proprietary and reference compounds of known toxicity; additional biological materials from these treated animals were separately used to create 'omics data, that will ultimately be used to populate an integrated toxicological database. In respect to assessment of the digital slides, a web-enabled digital slide management system, Digital SlideServer (TM) (DSS), was employed to enable integration of the digital slide content into the 'omics database and to facilitate remote viewing by pathologists connected with the project. DSS also facilitated manual annotation of digital slides by the pathologists, specifically in relation to marking particular lesions of interest. Tissue microarrays (TMAs) were constructed from the specimens for the purpose of creating a repository of tissue from animals used in the study with a view to later-stage biomarker assessment. As the PredTox consortium itself aims to identify new biomarkers of toxicity, these TMAs will be a valuable means of validation. In summary, a large repository of histological images was created enabling the subsequent pathological analysis of samples through remote viewing and, along with the utilisation of TMA technology, will allow the validation of biomarkers identified by the PredTox consortium. The population of the PredTox database with these digitised images represents the creation of the first toxicological database integrating 'omics and preclinical data with histological images. (C) 2008 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.