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Responses to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and criticisms of those responses, were framed by issues endemic to the meeting of ‘health’ and ‘security’ as governing domains. Offering an editorial introduction to the selection of papers in this special issue, it is suggested that existing scholarship in the emerging field of ‘health security’ can be categorized according to realist-advocacy, historical-analytic, problematization and critical-inequality approaches. In contributing to this literature through an event-based focus on the pandemic, the papers embrace the opportunity to examine health security architectures acting and interacting ‘in the event’, to not only speculate over the possible implications of this governing trope, but to review them. Questions of the scales of governance and associated forms of expertise, the implications of differing modes of governance (from preparedness to surveillance to forms of intervention), and the role of health inequalities in the patterning of the pandemic are identified as key themes running across the papers.