An attempt is made to describe early thinking on how a management information systems framework can be constructed to assist in protecting the British environment and in meeting European and international environmental obligations. The first step is to establish a directory of existing information sources, and the International Referral System for Sources of Environmental Information together with its national counterpart are seen as serving this function. The next step is to develop the idea of environmental data records, which are presented for networking in agreed format. Some progress has been made in drafting a proposed format for 'chemorecords' - of substances and their properties, production, uses, handling, environmental involvement, toxicology and control. Work remains to be started on how to develop a draft format for monitoring data (georecords) and for data on ecological interactions of man and other organisms (biorecords).