In the fall of 1976 Congress enacted the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, commonly referred to as RCRA. The objective of the statute is to create an orderly system for the generation, handling and disposal of hazardous waste by means of a comprehensive tracking and record keeping mechanism. RCRA does not regulate directly by statute so much as it delegates rule making authority to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pursuant to its mandate to develop regulations in accordance with the broad criteria of RCRA, EPA has published extensive regulations. These regulations address hazardous waste generation, transportation, treatment, storage and handling and its final disposal. The statute also offers remedies available to both EPA and the public at large to ensure enforcement of the provisions of RCRA and the EPA regulations. Additionally, it sets guidelines for states to implement their own hazardous waste management programs. This article is intended to introduce this complicated statutory/regulatory package to scientists and health professionals. It outlines the provisions of RCRA and the EPA regulations, abbreviates early judicial decisions interpreting these provisions and sets forth a brief description of various state approaches to hazardous waste management.