In 1977, the Low-level Working Group of the International Committee on Radionuclide Metrology met in Boston, MA (USA) to define the characteristics of a new set of environmental radioactivity reference materials. These reference materials were to provide the radiochemist with the same analytical challenges faced when assaying environmental samples. It was decided that radionuclide bearing natural materials should be collected from sites where there had been sufficient time for natural processes to redistribute the various chemically different species of the radionuclides. Over the succeeding years, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in cooperation with other highly experienced laboratories, certified and issued a number of these as low-level radioactivity Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) for fission and activation product and actinide concentrations. The experience of certifying these SRMs has given NIST the opportunity to compare radioanalytical methods and learn of their limitations. NIST convened an international workshop in 1994 to define the natural-matrix radionuclide SRM needs for ocean studies. The highest priorities proposed at the workshop were for sediment, shellfish, seaweed, fish flesh and water matrix SRMs certified for mBq per sample concentrations of 90 Sr, 137 Cs and 239 Pu + 240 Pu. The most recent low-level environmental radionuclide SRM issued by NIST, Ocean Sediment (SRM 4357) has certified and uncertified values for the following 22 radionuclides: 40 K, 90 Sr, 129 I, 137 Cs, 155 Eu, 210 Pb, 210 Po, 212 Pb, 214 Bi, 226 Ra, 228 Ra, 228 Th, 230 Th, 232 Th, 234 U, 235 U, 237 Np, 238 U, 238 Pu, 239 Pu + 240 Pu, and 241 Am. The uncertainties for a number of the certified radionuclides are non-symmetrical and relatively large because of the non-normal distribution of reported values. NIST is continuing its efforts to provide the ocean studies community with additional natural matrix radionuclide SRMs. The freeze-dried shellfish flesh matrix has been prepared and recently sent to participating laboratories for analysis and we anticipate receiving radioanalytical results in 2000. The research and development work at NIST produce well characterized SRMs that provide the world's environment-studies community with an important foundation component for radionuclide metrology.