The idea of creating a national institute for research in basic and applied immunology was conceived in the early eighties when immunology was identified as a priority area by the Science & Engineering Research Council (SERC) wing of the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The SERC deliberations noted the overwhelming potential impact of advances in immunology research on human and animal health, and consequently, initiated consultation with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and experts from various agencies and industry to establish the “National Institute of Immunology (NII)’.The Institute was conceived to grow on the aegis of the ICMR–WHO Research & Training Centre in Immunology which had been in operation for many years at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). NII was registered as an autonomous society on 24th June, 1981 under the Societies Registration Act (XXI of 1860). The first Governing Body of the Institute met under the Chairmanship of Prof MGK Menon on 27th July, 1981. Prof GP Talwar was invited to join as Honorary Director on 14th August, 1981. The ICMR-WHO Research & Training Centre was formally merged with NII on 31st March, 1982. NII started functioning in the laboratory space available to Prof GP Talwar at AIIMS, an arrangement that continued in the interim period till the first buildings of NII were constructed in the current location on the land carved out of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus. Prof Talwar formally joined as full time Director of NII on 2nd November, 1983.