Because of their concern about the increasing costs of health care, industry and government contractors for health care will attempt to control health-care costs for the foreseeable future. New proposals for cost containment include those that are focused on cost alone—for example, expenditure limits—and those that propose to control costs by limiting medical interventions to those of known efficacy. This latter attempt has come to be known as “effectiveness research.” Herein, we briefly review the history of quality assurance and cost-containment efforts in the United States, giving special attention to the current initiative based on effectiveness research. Although the effectiveness research initiative has shortcomings (for example, it will not provide guidance when data are not available), it seems to be superior to the current peer review system because it encourages the development of a knowledge base and deemphasizes punitive measures as a way to ensure quality and control costs. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (Public Law 101-239) establishes a federal agency, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, within the Public Health Service to focus on effectiveness research.