Abstract The prevention and control of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection constitutes a major health policy priority especially in countries belonging to the CEE and the NIS (the former Soviet Union). Many of these countries report high prevalence rates of HBV infection, clinical disease and even high mortality. The Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board (VHPB) jointly organized with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a meeting to bring together managers of national immunization programs, hepatitis experts and senior officials from ministries of health. The meeting was held in Siofok, Hungary from 6 to 9 October 1996. The aim of the meeting was to put the prevention of hepatitis B on the political agenda and to speed up the progress of the countries in central and eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States towards the implementation of universal childhood vaccination against hepatitis B. The epidemiology of hepatitis B in the countries concerned was discussed, the different strategies for prevention of hepatitis B reviewed, major elements in priority setting elaborated, with emphasis on health economics and strategies for resource mobilization outlined; national and international experts exchanged views during six workshops (resource mobilization; monitoring and surveillance; vaccines and immunization; vaccine production, quality control and regulation issues; nosocomial transmission and diagnostics). A major outcome of the meeting was a consensus statement and recommendations for action. These recommendations concerned the countries of the region but also `partners in development' and the WHO, insisting that the international agencies should support technically and financially the hepatitis B prevention efforts of the countries.