This article presents the results of a questionnaire-based mail survey which was conducted to examine the influence of managerial cognitions on the strategies for biodiversity conservation undertaken by individual companies in the North American biotechnology industry. The study confirmed that managerial issue interpretations and risk propensities were significant influences on organisational actions for biodiversity preservation. More specifically, the biodiversity conservation strategies undertaken by individual companies were influenced by whether or not the managers of these companies interpreted biodiversity conservation as an opportunity or a threat as well as the propensity of these managers to undertake risk on behalf of their companies. This article concludes that opportunity interpretations of biodiversity conservation by managers of biotechnology companies will be translated into proactive environmental responsiveness strategies in uncertain environments only if these managers also exhibit a high risk propensity. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.