Approximately two-thirds of all U.S. and Canadian medical schools have provisions for the evaluation of their departments on a periodic or ad hoc basis. Most of these institutions have initiated the departmental review process since 1970. It appears that use of the practice is increasing and is becoming an important tool in providing guidance for departmental activities, programs, and leadership. Departmental review may be conducted in a variety of ways with varying levels of intensity, flexibility, and skill, depending on the environment, resources, dean, department chairmen, faculty, and attitudes of university administrators. Departmental review may be employed to identify, elaborate, document, and/or contribute to the resolution of current and potential organizational concerns. When carefully administered, the process can be a stabilizing rather than a disruptive force; however, by itself, it does not solve major institutional problems.