The ongoing discussion on threats by terrorist attacks leads to a realignment of tasks and responsibilities within the health care system. Especially the public health services are developing from exercising mainly an advisory function to becoming an integral part in disaster response to devastating biological scenarios. Recent risk assessment recommends authoritative integration of public health officials into disaster response planning and to define their role inside the command and control structures of disaster management. Interdisciplinary networks of public health services, medical treatment centres, emergency medical services, reference laboratories and hospital hygiene services have appeared to be successful in the management of life-threatening, contagious diseases and unexpected bioterrorist incidents as well. In March 2003 the "StAKoB" was established as a permanent working group of the centres for prepared ness and treatment. Major objectives of the working group are ex change of information, mutual support in cases of emergency and standardisation in staff training.