The LABEX programme was initiated by ISRIC at the recommendation of the Second International Soil Classification Workshop in 1978. The main aims were to cross-check, correlate and standardize analytical methods for soil characterization to facilitate and improve international soil classification and correlation studies. During the experimental phase (1980-1984), 20 laboratories participated in the programme. After allocation of a Research Grant by the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Dutch Government, the number of participants increased to 120 in 1989. DGIS financing of the LABEX programme ended in 1990 - laboratories interested in outside references only were advised to participate in the Wageningen Evaluating Programmes for Analytical Laboratories (WEPAL). ISRIC's analytical laboratory was dismantled in 2001, following a recommendation from the Board.