Malaria is the major vector-borne disease in Africa, killing close to 1 million people annually, most of them children under the age of five. In South Africa, malaria transmission is confined to the low-lying border areas in the northeast of the country. The Vector Control Reference Laboratory (VCRL) focuses on the anopheline mosquitoes responsible for malaria transmission and houses a unique collection of live mosquito colonies of the three most important vector species in Africa, namely Anopheles gambiae, An. arabiensis and An. funestus, plus the minor vector An. merus, and the non-vector species of the An. gambiae complex, An. quadriannulatus. Three colonies of An. funestus from Mozambique and Angola continue to provide us with a unique resource for research into insecticide resistance in this important malaria vector. This places the VCRL in a unique position to provide operational support to the National and provincial malaria control programmes, to offer collaborations with international institutions investigating similar problems and to play a role in influencing policy decisions on vector control strategies in the southern African region. Also, the VCRL houses the largest museum collection of African arthropods of medical importance in Africa, the third largest such collection in the world. The University of the Witwatersrand has recognized the high level of expertise in the VCRL and it now forms part of the Wits Research Institute for Malaria (WRIM).