The purpose of part 1 is to provide an overview of published literature (1980–2002) on chronic wasting disease (CWD) to inform Canadian readers about the disease and to explain Canadian regulatory approaches to the surveillance and control of CWD. Much of the scientific information is drawn from American publications obtained from internet searches in PubMed and Medline databases. The following keywords were used: chronic wasting disease, prion, diagnosis, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, CWD and deer, CWD and elk, and CWD and environment. The article also presents information from Canadian publications and unpublished observations, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) documents, and both government and nongovernment internet Web sites. The article highlights some different features of CWD in Canada, as compared with the situation in the United States, and mentions public health implications of the disease. It also describes the basis for development of Canada’s surveillance and control program. Part 2 will detail the activities and results of the surveillance and control program during 2000 to 2002 and discuss factors that will influence the feasibility of eradicating CWD. Chronic wasting disease appears to have been introduced into Canada through the importation of infected farmed elk from the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s, at a time when little was known about the disease. Since then, eradication efforts in Canada have led to the control of the spread of CWD in the farmed elk industry. Still, management of this disease, especially in free-ranging cervids, is a challenge.