[Excerpt from authors] This paper is one in 10 in a series of papers commissioned by the World Health Organization to take stock of the state of the science of human resources for health activities in the year 2000. This paper provides an analysis of how labour market indicators can be integrated into service planning, discusses whether planning is sufficiently responsive and flexible to retain relevance and validity in rapidly changing health systems, describes different models and approaches to linking and integrating workforce planning and service planning, discusses methodological approaches to integrating planning, and examines effective approaches to the use of computer based scenario modeling to support assessment of current and future planning options. The context and broad cross-cutting themes of public sector, political, social, and macro-economic changes have been considered. Where publications exist, empirical evidence serves as the basis for this analysis and country examples have been highlighted. While strides have been made in the practice of resource planning world-wide, health human resource planning in most countries has been poorly conceptualized, intermittent, varying in quality, profession specific in nature, and without adequate vision or data upon which to base sound decisions.