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3 Rs

"Replacement means the substitution for conscious living higher animals of insentient material. Reduction means reduction in the numbers of animals used to obtain information of a given amount and precision. Refinement means any decrease in the incidence or severity of inhumane procedures applied to those animals which still have to be used."

(Russell & Burch: The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique, 1959)


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The first R stands for "replacement" and means methods that avoid or replace the use of animals in experiments. In detail, the term animal includes non-human vertebrates, their independently feeding larvae and foetuses of mammals from the last third of their normal development, as well as cephalopods.

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The second R stands for "reduction" and refers to methods that reduce the number of animals used. There are two different approaches to this, on the one hand minimising the number of animals for the same amount of information and on the other hand maximising the information gain for the same number of animals.

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The third R stands for "refinement" and includes methods that are intended to improve animal welfare by reducing or avoiding pain, suffering, stress and permanent damage in animal experiments.



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Gesellschaft zur Förderung von Alternativen
Biomodellen (The 3R Society)
Postfach 0014
A-8036 Graz