A qualitative risk assessment was performed to evaluate the risk of introducing foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus into Russia and the rest of Europe from the countries of Transcaucasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia). The assessment was based on data collected during a three-week mission to these countries by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Union and the Office International des Epizooties in March 1999. Due to the strong involvement of the local veterinary services, much information was obtained. Although the data were not sufficient to allow a quantitative risk assessment to be performed, the investigation served as a useful initial approach, prior to undertaking a quantitative risk assessment. The risk of FMD virus infection is a function of two elements, namely: the probability of the hazard (virus infection) occurring, and the magnitude of the consequences. The probability of the hazard occurring is the product of the probability of entry of the virus and the probability of exposure to the virus. These elements were assessed using the following parameters: prevalence of infection; volume of trade; capacity of the virus to survive; and potential for infection. The magnitude of the consequences is derived from the probability of transmission and spread. Combining these parameters, the probability of occurrence of the hazard was rated as 'moderate'. Economic consequences of potential transmission and spread of FMD, in the local context, were rated as 'negligible'. As a result, the overall risk of introducing FMD virus into Russia and the rest of Europe from Trancaucasia was rated as 'low' at the time of evaluation. The method and results are presented to serve as a basis for further discussion.