Not all traditional remedies are likely to be proven to be efficacious in scientific studies. This means that natural product researchers are going to accumulate negative results along with considerable information about the chemistry and biology of components found in the ingredients of the traditional leads. In any sizeable or long-term research programe involving natural product leads, there will be a large collection of background information and, potentially, a large number of apparently inactive extracts and compounds. Can something of value be done with such material? Since the vast majority of pharmaceutical drug discovery does not involve ethnopharmacological leads but is centered on high-throughput screening of the widest possible chemical diversity, the answer to this question has to be 'yes'. The difficulty in realizing the value of natural products for industrial drug discovery is in the area of communications between industrial and natural product researchers. There needs to be education in both directions: about issues relating to the Convention on Biological Diversity to industry, and about the technological demands of high-throughput screening to natural product researchers.