ABSTRACT: Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, pigs, sheep and many wildlife species. It can cause enormous economic losses when incursions occur into countries which are normally disease free. In addition, it has long-term effects within countries where the disease is endemic due to reduced animal productivity and the restrictions on international trade in animal products. The disease is caused by infection with foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV), a picornavirus. Seven different serotypes (and numerous variants) of FMDV have been identified. Some serotypes have a restricted geographical distribution, e.g. Asia-1, whereas others, notably serotype O, occur in many different regions. There is no cross-protection between serotypes and sometimes protection conferred by vaccines even of the same serotype can be limited. Thus it is important to characterize the viruses that are circulating if vaccination is being used for disease control. This review describes current methods for the detection and characterization of FMDVs. Sequence information is increasingly being used for identifying the source of outbreaks. In addition such information can be used to understand antigenic change within virus strains. The challenges and opportunities for improving the control of the disease within endemic settings, with a focus on Eurasia, are discussed, including the role of the FAO/EuFMD/OIE Progressive Control Pathway. Better control of the disease in endemic areas reduces the risk of incursions into disease-free regions.