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At the 2006 National Meeting of the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science, a panel discussed the question of what constitutes optimal or acceptable housing density for mice. Though there is a consensus that present guidelines are somewhat arbitrarily defined, scientific research has not yet been able to provide clear recommendations for amending them. Speakers explored the many factors that influence decisions on mouse housing, including regulatory requirements, scientific data and their interpretation, financial considerations and ethical concerns. The panel largely agreed that animal well-being should be the measure of interest in evaluating housing density and that well-being includes not only physical health, but also animals' behavior, productivity and preference.