Evidence-based medicine (EBM) refers to the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence from research for the care of an individual patient. The concept of EBM was first described in human medicine in the early 1990s and was introduced to veterinary medicine 10. years later. However, it is not clear that the EBM approach promulgated in human medicine can be applied to the same extent to veterinary medicine. EBM has the potential to help veterinarians to make more informed decisions, but obstacles to the implementation of EBM include a lack of high quality patient-centred research, the need for basic understanding of clinical epidemiology by veterinarians, the absence of adequate searching techniques and accessibility to scientific data bases and the inadequacy of EBM tools that can be applied to the busy daily practise of veterinarians. This review describes the development of EBM in the veterinary profession, identifies its advantages and disadvantages and discusses whether and how veterinary surgeons should further adopt the EBM approach of human medicine. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.