Intensive care contributes to a substantial part of health care expenses. Admission to intensive care units is associated with a high mortality rate and a high risk of long-term disability. Data from several studies suggest that suboptimal standards of intensive care are relatively common. Lack of knowledge regarding the use of intensive care and long-term outcome as well as the effectiveness and adverse effects of intensive care impede a systematic and evidence-based development and quality improvement. An initiative to establish a Danish national clinical database for intensive care has been launched.