The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 mandates the inclusion of a fish and wildlife response plan in the National Contingency Plan (NCP) and the creation of Area Committees that must develop an Area Contingency Plan (ACP). Area Contingency Plans must include a detailed annex containing a Fish and Wildlife and Sensitive Environments Plan. Tank vessels, offshore facilities, and certain onshore facilities must have response plans consistent with the requirements of the NCP and the ACP. New regulations to supersede the Type A and B procedures of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment Regulations are being developed for oil spills. Currently, four assessment methods have been proposed: (1) Type A, (2) comprehensive (Type B), (3) intermediate (between types A and B), and (4) compensation tables. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is approaching its ceiling of $1 billion, but only $50 million has been appropriated. Effective biological contingency planning requires extensive knowledge of (1) the environmental fate of petroleum, (2) the effects of petroleum on organisms, (3) the existing biological resources, and (4) the establishment of a system of biological priorities. The characteristics and fate of petroleum and the biological effects of petroleum are reviewed. Assessment of biological resources includes plant and animal distributions, important habitat, endangered or threatened species, and economic considerations. The establishment by Area Committees of priorities for environmental protection, injury assessment, and restoration will promote efficient spill response. Three special issues are discussed: (1) improving our ability to restore natural resources, (2) the potential role of biological diversity in spill response planning, and (3) planning for animal rehabilitation.