Laboratory generated data are used in support of several types of global health research. Routinely obtained clinical diagnostic data are used for disease surveillance, epidemiologic analysis of frequencies and trends, health outcomes research, and sponsored research projects. Clinical data from research laboratories is also collected in support of sponsored research projects. Whether the initial purpose of the testing is in support of research protocols or the data are retrospectively reviewed, the quality of the laboratory data is essential to drawing correct conclusions. The types and use of data generated by on-site, routine diagnostic, research diagnostic and basic science laboratories will be described, with a focus on quality-related issues. Full integration of laboratory management as a partner is essential to successful research planning and execution. © Society of General Internal Medicine 2013.