Isolation of patients with highly infectious diseases (HIDs) in hospital rooms with adequate technical facilities is essential to reduce the risk of spreading disease. The European Network for Infectious Diseases (EUNID), a project co-funded by European Commission and involving 16 European Union member states, performed an inventory of high level isolation rooms (HIRs, hospital rooms with negative pressure and anteroom). In participating countries, HIRs are available in at least 211 hospitals, with at least 1789 hospital beds. The adequacy of this number is not known and will depend on prevailing circumstances. Sporadic HID cases can be managed in the available HIRs. HIRs could also have a role in the initial phases of an influenza pandemic. However, large outbreaks due to natural or to bioterrorist events will need management strategies involving healthcare facilities other than HIRs. (C) 2009 The Hospital Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.