The pollution prevention principle has become the dominant environmental-policy guideline in the Federal Republic of Germany and in the European Communities. The compatibility of the pollution prevention principle with the dominating ecological-economics theory is analyzed, and the differences between the pollution prevention and the polluter principle as a significant, economically founded guideline are defined on the basis of the results obtained. The implementation of the pollution prevention principle, which is understood as an extensive ecologization of the socio-economic structures, is discussed evaluating the contribution of normative and empirical ethics and investigating three closely related aspects, i.e. the development of a pollution prevention target system, the suitability of environmental-policy instruments with regard to different levels of prevention, and the national and democratic institutional prerequisites. The prospects of the pollution prevention principle within the European Communities are discussed on the basis of these findings. (orig.).