The discussion on the desirability or not to integrate disease control activities with general health services is a longstanding one. The recent creations of global health initiatives for poverty-related disease control have refuelled the debate. The Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) convened a colloquium in Antwerp to clarify concepts involved in integrated disease control and contribute to the creation of a common scientific language and a better understanding of the issues at stake. We present an overview of highlights from the colloquium sessions. Some of the contributions reported here are presented in more detail elsewhere in this special issue.