Skip Navigation Bar
NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

NLM 175th Anniversary

Trusted Health Information for the Public

A woman texting
Mobile MedlinePlus on an iPhone

MedlinePlus has a mobile version of the Web site that lets users access medical and drug information while on the go, available on any Web-enabled phones at and, in Spanish, at just a click away

For over a hundred years, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) served medical professionals by indexing the biomedical literature. The first indexes were printed volumes with titles like Index–Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office. Later, the index was called Index Medicus (IM). The library automated the production of IM in the 1960s, and in 1971 began making IM available for searching via a computer database called MEDLINE. In the 1990s, health professionals were able to search MEDLINE using a Web browser. But there were costs for using it. 

When NLM made MEDLINE on the Web free of charge in June 1997, the general public immediately became an important NLM user group. A year later, 30 percent of MEDLINE searching performed from NLM’s Web site was by students and the general public. But MEDLINE did not contain information for this audience. Its content was (and still is) information written by and for a health professional audience.

To address the needs of consumers, NLM developed a new Web site, MedlinePlus ( MedlinePlus debuted on October 22, 1998, with 22 “health topic” pages—collections of links to reliable information on subjects like diabetes and heart attack. Since 1998, MedlinePlus has grown to become the most frequently visited government Web site for health information.

MedlinePlus offers authoritative, up-to-date health information, without advertisements, and is available anytime, anywhere for free. A Spanish-language version, MedlinePlus en español (, is also available. A site for cell phones and other mobile devices is at

Keeping up with the latest health news and information is easier than ever now, with the MedlinePlus Twitter feed (

medlineplus4you twitter feed

MedlinePlus contains:

  • Nearly 900 health topics pages that link to health information from NIH and other authoritative sources and include MEDLINE/PubMed searches, current news items about the topic, and links to related topics
  • Medical Encyclopedia—an extensive collection of medical images, as well as 4,000 articles about diseases, tests, symptoms, injuries, and surgeries
  • Interactive Health Tutorials—narrated programs that use animated graphics to explain conditions and procedures in easy-to-read language
  • Drugs, Supplements, and Herbal Information—prescription and over-the-counter medicines, plus herbs and supplements
  • Current Health News—late-breaking stories about medicine and health
  • Dictionary—spellings, definitions, and pronunciations of medical terms
  • Multiple Languages—links to health information in over 40 languages
  • Directories—locations and credentials of doctors, dentists, and hospitals,

and much, much more.

MedlinePlus home page

MedlinePlus home page

MedlinePlus has an easy-to-use interface and highlights current health concerns and features on the home page—in English and Spanish versions.

Spring 2011 Issue: Volume 6 Number 1 Page 26-27