Recent experience in Australia has seen the requirement by the federal Department of Finance and Administration to conduct output pricing reviews of government agencies including research organisations. Health and medical research, while generally regarded as an important ‘public good’, is now pressed by the same demands as other research fields to account for public investments in terms of value of outcomes and value for investment. This paper reports on current trends towards international benchmarking of health and medical research performance. Comparative data from overseas show unique aspects of the Australian health and medical research funding system. The paper suggests possible future routes for carrying out health research evaluation in Australia.