A prime justification for choosing acupuncture in Britain to explore the empirical applicability of the research tools forged in Part I of the book for assessing the altruism claims of professions is that sociologists have all too rarely studied alternative medicine in this country-especially as compared with the United States (Saks 1992a). The current chapter begins the foray into this still much neglected field by charting the response of the British medical profession to acupuncture and outlining its implications for the public availability of the technique. This provides the empirical basis on which to ground the central analytical tasks of evaluating the influence of professional self-interests on the position of acupuncture in nineteenth-and twentieth-century Britain and examining the extent to which the outcomes of such influence have been compatible with the public interest in the chapters which follow in Part II.