BACKGROUND: Legislation and regulation of pesticides used in public health are essential for reducing risks to human health and the environment. OBJECTIVE: We assessed the global situation on legislation and regulatory control of public health pesticides. METHODS: A peer-reviewed and field-tested questionnaire was distributed to 142 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO); 113 states completed the questionnaire. RESULTS: Legislation on public health pesticides was absent in 25% of the countries. Where present, legislation often lacked comprehensiveness, for example, on basic aspects such as labeling, storage, transport, and disposal of public health pesticides. Guidelines or essential requirements for the process of pesticide registration were lacking in many countries. The capacity to enforce regulations was considered to be weak across WHO regions. Half of all countries lacked pesticide quality control laboratories, and two-thirds reported high concern over quality of products on the market. National statistics on production and trade of pesticides and poisoning incidents were lacking in many countries. Despite the shortcomings, WHO recommendations were considered to constitute a supportive or sole basis in national registration. Also, some regions showed high participation of countries in regional schemes to harmonize pesticide registration requirements. CONCLUSIONS: Critical deficiencies are evident in the legislative and regulatory framework for public health pesticides across regions, posing risks to human health and the environment. Recent experience in some countries with situational analysis, needs assessment, action planning, and regional collaboration has signaled a promising way forward.