Early in 1987, the U K government launched a number o f schemes to attempt to reduce the spread o f H I V infection amongst injecting drug users. These schemes make syringes and needles available to users, together w i th advice on drug use and safer sex. They are commonly known as syringe or needle-exchange schemes. The introduction o f this new policy marked a change o f direction w i th respect to the desirability or otherwise o f distributing injecting equipment to drug users. Only a year before there had been little official support for making syringes and needles freely available (Short, 1986), which made the speed w i th which syringe exchanges were introduced all the more surprising. The schemes themselves were launched in Apr i l 1987, a mere four months after a government decision had been made. This chapter w i l l examine the background to the introduction o f these schemes and the manner in which they were set up. It w i l l also present preliminary findings from an evaluation o f their work being carried out by the Moni tor ing Research Group at Goldsmiths' College, London.