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(vĭv'ĭsĕk`shən), dissection of living animals for experimental purposes. The use of the term in recent years has been expanded to include all experimentation on living animals, rather than just dissection alone. The practice contributed to the outstanding progress that was made in the 17th cent. by William Harvey in understanding the circulation of the blood. However, the use of research animals in the laboratory did not become widespread in Europe until the 19th cent. In 1896, when the National Institute of Health originated in the United States, it began to take an active role in encouraging proper care and use of laboratory animals. Since 1945, the National Society for Medical Research has tried to explain to the public the nature and necessity of experimental procedures on animals. During the 1980s, the incidence of vandalism, harassment, and theft in research centers using animals for testing increased greatly. Most nations have government agencies that assume advisory or regulatory roles in the practice of vivisection. Private organizations in the United States concerned with vivisection include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In the United States today, strict rules and procedures, laid down by the National Institutes of Health and a number of other public and private organizations, ensure ethical and sensitive use of animals for research. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Animal Welfare Regulations are among the most important documents setting forth requirements for animal care and use by institutions using animals in research, testing, and education. Regulations have been effective since 1985. Members of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees observe and enforce compliance to these rulings on institutional levels. The USDA regularly inspects all institutions that use animals for experimental purposes. Animals most frequently used in the laboratory include rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and monkeys. When animals more closely resembling humans in size and structure are needed, dogs and chimpanzees may be utilized. Animal experimentation is especially advantageous if offspring of several generations are to be observed: for instance, about 5 generations of mice can be observed in a year, whereas in humans the same experiment would require over 100 years.


See studies by T. Regan (1988), S. Sperling (1988), and B. Rollin (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the performance of operations on live animals for the purpose of studying the functions of the body, the effect of medicinal substances, methods of surgical treatment, and so forth. In vivisection the research is conducted at the time of the operation itself—for example, in an acute experiment through irritation, transplantation, or removal of an organ. On the other hand, in a chronic experiment (originated by I. P. Pavlov), the operation merely serves as a preparation for subsequent research (for example, the creation of a fistula of the salivary gland or stomach). Vivisection is an extremely valuable method in medical and physiological research. Experiments are conducted in such a way that animal suffering during operations is minimized by the use of narcosis and so forth. Accusations from antivivi-section societies (in Great Britain and the USA) of the torture of animals by physiologists or medical experimenters are therefore without foundation. In the USSR vivisection is permitted only for scientific purposes.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the act or practice of performing experiments on living animals, involving cutting into or dissecting the body
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Animal Vivisection: Justifying Scientific Invasion of Non-Consenting Bodies
And the INC was prepared even for the vivisection of India if it could not get a federal structure, a union of states, but with a powerful centre.
For example, all of the anti-vivisection novels in Chapter Four are treated in the final twenty-two pages of the thirty-eight-page chapter, while the first sixteen pages provide a discussion of vivisection debates in the periodical press.
Charities that do not support vivisection will be prevented from joining AMRC, and current members will be barred from changing their opinion as the evidence against animal experimentation continues to grow.
His Discourse on the Study of Physiology (1798) was to be instrumental in securing vivisection and autopsy as the appropriate paths through which to truly comprehend the inner functioning of the body.
Journalist Frances Power Cobbe was an activist against vivisection (operations and scientific experiments on live animals) in Victorian England.
The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) on Tuesday said that United Arab Emirates carrier Ethihad Airways has confirmed it will not transport any animals for research purposes.
The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) on Wednesday said that its petition to stop the transportation of primates for research has gained over 15,000 signatures.
Those who would abolish or even restrict the progress of knowledge by vivisection, kind as they may believe their motives to be, are to my mind guilty of the most horrible cruelty to animals and to man." (2) This rejection, combined with the failure of the efforts to secure passage of the bills in Massachusetts, seems to have contributed to Phelps's decision to engage the topic in a way that was familiar to her: She wrote a novel.
Andrew Kirk, 50, was charged with breach of the peace after allegedly sending an alarming letter about vivisection to Aberdeen airport on March 19.