The literature study on which we report here is based on a cross-disciplinary database containing around 650 articles, taken from the engineering, management, and policy studies disciplines. We report on this literature using a model distinguishing between the product development processes as such. and different contexts. such as the company as a whole, the product chain and society. In addition, a distinction is made between empirically informed research and more conceptual work. Confronting the references in the database with this model, we identify several white spots on the map of research on environmental product development. These seem to be the understanding of the use and role of tools on a micro level (within companies). and an understanding of how this micro-level interacts with the macro level (between companies and in public policies). Also. a strategic orientation on the product development process within companies is underdeveloped. We argue that, in order to make an environmental optimisation of resource use and a minimisation of emissions. a systems perspective is necessary, both in research and practice. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.