The Institute was founded as Institute of Occupational Hygiene by a decision of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (since 1992 Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts) on 27 December 1947. The decision was implemented during 1948, and research started a year later.
In 1958, the Institute gained the status of independent scientific institution and in 1959 it changed name to Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health. From 1974 to 1993 the Institute was a member of the University of Zagreb. Due to legislation introduced in 1993, this affiliation terminated for all research institutes, including ours.
From 1990 to 2003, the Institute was under the authority of the Ministry of Science and Technology, and from 2004 it reports to the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports.
Now it is the second largest Croatian research institution.