Cattle strains of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis are known to infect cattle, goats and alpaca in southeastern Australia, where there are also significant numbers of farmed deer. Although sheep strains have recently been identified in some cattle in Australia, epidemiological evidence to date supports the distinction (between bovine Johne's disease (JD), caused by cattle strains in cattle, goats and alpaca, and ovine JD, caused by sheep strains in sheep and goats) for the purposes of control and assurance programs. The National Johne's Disease Control Program is coordinated by the Australian Animal Health Council, working with the livestock industries and with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. The council also brokers industry and government funding for the program. The National Johne's Disease Market Assurance Program for Cattle was launched in 1996 as the first of a suite of voluntary national market assurance programs (MAPs) to assess and certify herds as negative for JD. By December 1998, over 550 herds had achieved an assessed negative status. A MAP was also launched for alpaca in 1998 and a program for goats should be finalised in early 1999. National standards for state control of JD through zoning, movement controls and procedures in infected and suspect herds have also been developed. The paper covers factors affecting development and implementation, uptake of and improvements to national control and assurance programs for bovine JD in Australia. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.