This article summarizes the motivation for, and the proceedings of, the first ISA-TAB workshop held December 6-8, 2007, at the EBI, Cambridge, UK. This exploratory workshop, organized by members of the Microarray Gene Expression Data (MGED) Society's Reporting Structure for Biological Investigations (RSBI) working group, brought together a group of developers of a range of collaborative systems to discuss the use of a common format to address the pressing need of reporting and communicating data and metadata from biological, biomedical, and environmental studies employing combinations of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics technologies along with more conventional methodologies. The expertise of the participants comprised database development, data management, and hands-on experience in the development of data communication standards. The workshop's outcomes are set to help formalize the proposed Investigation, Study, Assay (ISA)-TAB tab-delimited format for representing and communicating experimental metadata. This article is part of the special issue of OMICS on the activities of the Genomics Standards Consortium (GSC).