Rice cultivars resistant to broad-spectrum herbicides have been developed and their commercial release is imminent, especially for imidazolinone and glufosinate resistant varieties in the USA and Latin America. Glyphosate-resistant rice should follow within a few years. Rice growers throughout the world could benefit from the introduction of herbicide-resistant rice cultivars that would allow in-crop, selective control of weedy Oryza species. Other perceived benefits are the possibility to control ‘hard-to-kill’ weed species and weed populations that have already evolved resistance to herbicides currently used in rice production, especially those of the Echinochloa species complex. Weed management could also be improved by more efficient post-emergence control. Introduction of herbicide resistant rice could also bring areas heavily infested with weedy rice that have been abandoned back to rice production, allow longer term crop rotations, reduce consumption of fossil fuels, promote the replacement of traditional chemicals by more environmentally benign products, and provide more rice grain without adding new land to production. There are also concerns, however, about the impact of releasing herbicide-resistant rice on weed problems. Of most concern is the possibility of rapid transfer of the resistance trait to compatible weedy Oryza species. Development of such herbicide resistant weedy rice populations would substantially limit the chemical weed management options for farmers. Herbicide-resistant rice volunteers also could become problematic, and added selection pressure to weed populations could aggravate already serious weed resistance problems. Because of the risk of weedy Oryza species becoming resistant to broad-spectrum herbicides, mitigating measures to prevent gene flow, eventually attainable by both conventional breeding and molecular genetics, have been proposed. With commercialisation of the first herbicide resistant varieties planned for 2001, these mitigating measures will not be available for use with this first generation of herbicide resistant rice products. Release of herbicide resistant rice should depend on a thorough risk assessment especially in areas infested with con-specific weedy rice or intercrossing weedy Oryza species. Regulators will have to balance risks and benefits based on local needs and conditions before allowing commercialisation of herbicide-resistant rice varieties. If accepted, these varieties should be considered as components of integrated weed management, and a rational herbicide use and weedy rice control should be promoted to prevent losing this novel tool.