The authors begin this article by providing background on patient safety issues, a definition of patient safety, and strategies and goals for research, followed by a detailed outline of the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) agenda. The authors emphasize the need to address issues along the continuum of patient safety, including epidemiology of error, error mechanisms, developing interventions, and implementation of error-reducing processes. They outline the advantages and disadvantages of targeted versus investigator-initiated research and balancing emphasis on researching basic mechanisms versus identified safety problems. The authors conclude that the ultimate test will be to determine whether NPSF programs have an impact on frontline providers. The agency will conduct studies to determine the efficacy of its programs.