The heat exchangers of various types are common items of plant in the generation and transmission of electricity. The amount of attention given to the flow-induced vibrations of heat exchangers by designers is usually related to the operational history of similar items of plant. Consequently, if a particular design procedure yields items of plant which behave in a satisfactory manner during their operational life, there is little incentive to improve or refine the design procedure. On the other hand, failures of heat exchangers clearly indicate deficiencies in the design procedures or in the data available to the designer. When such failures are attributable to flow-induced vibrations, the identification of the mechanisms involved is a prime importance. Ideally, basic research work provides the background understanding and the techniques necessary to be able to identify the important mechanisms. In practice, the investigation of a flow-induced vibration problem may identify the presence of mechanisms but may not be able to quantify their effects adequately. In these circumstances the need for additional work is established and the objectives of the research programme emerge. The purpose of this paper is to outline the background to the current research programme at C.E.R.L. on heat exchanger vibration.