Quality assurance is becoming increasingly important. Good laboratory practice (GLP) and good manufacturing practice (GMP) are now established standards. The biomedical field aims at an increasing reliance on the use of in vitro methods. Cell and tissue culture methods are generally fast, cheap, reproducible and reduce the use of experimental animals. Good cell culture practice (GCCP) is an attempt to develop a common standard for in vitro methods. The implementation of the use of chemically defined media is part of the GCCP. This will decrease the dependence on animal serum, a supplement with an undefined and variable composition. Defined media supplements are commercially available for some cell types. However, information on the formulation by the companies is often limited and such supplements can therefore not be regarded as completely defined. The development of defined media is difficult and often takes place in isolation. A workshop was organised in 2009 in Copenhagen to discuss strategies to improve the development and use of serum-free defined media. In this report, the results from the meeting are discussed and the formulation of a basic serum-free medium is suggested. Furthermore, recommendations are provided to improve information exchange on newly developed serum-free media.