The Russian city of Yekaterinburg, known as Sverdlovsk before the influence of perestroika, lies at the eastern foot of the Ural Mountains on the border between Europe and Asia. It was the site of large armaments factories, most of which are now closed, but the area continues to feel the aftermath of their heavy pollution. The annual Congress of the Russian Society of Internal Medicine was held here in 1995 and was attended by physicians from all corners of this vast country. Leaders in the field of internal medicine from Russia presented state-of-the-art papers on many aspects of the theme of the conference, Emergencies in Internal Medicine. The problem of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome was also discussed, but this subject is still taboo as far as the official health authorities are concerned. The Russian physicians talked about how they deplored the great shortage of disposable medical equipment. One of the most serious health problems in Russia is alcoholism; surprisingly, this problem was hardly mentioned at the congress. An open international exchange of information is again possible in Russia, but financial considerations restrict attendance at meetings abroad and the availability of professional journals domestically.