In view of the difficulties of assessing the significance of man-made radioactivity it is important to study for comparison the background of natural radioactivity against which the human race has evolved and lives. It is also important to define the present levels of activity so that it will be possible to detect and study as quickly as possible any changes which may occur owing to the release into the environment of new radioactive materials. Moreover, by the study of the behaviour of natural radioactivity light may be shed upon that of the artificially produced isotopes and a number of analogies traced between the two groups. These concepts have led to studies of naturally-occurring radioactive materials alongside a programme of research into fission products in food, water and air, as well as studies of the metabolism of both sets of materials in the human body. Since the last report there has been a useful increase in our knowledge of natural radioactivity in the biosphere, and its levels relative to the new man-made activities. These studies have necessitated technical developments, particularly in the methods of measuring and identifying alpha-ray emitters, to which group many of the more important natural radioactive materials belong.