Trial master file (TMF) plays a key role in the successful management of a trial by the investigator/institutions and sponsors. The essential documents and data records stored in the TMF enable the operational staff as well as monitors, auditors and inspectors to evaluate compliance with the protocol, the trial’s safe conduct and the quality of the data obtained. This guideline is intended to assist the sponsors and investigators/institutions in complying with the requirements of the current legislation (Directive 2001/20/EC and Directive 2005/28/EC), as well as ICH E6 Good Clinical Practice (GCP) Guideline (‘ICH GCP guideline’), regarding the structure, content, management and archiving of the clinical trial master file (TMF). The guidance also applies to the legal representatives and contract research organisation (CROs), which according to the ICH GCP guideline includes any third party such as vendors and service providers to the extent of their assumed sponsor trial-related duties and functions.

The ICH GCP guideline provides information in relation to essential documents to be collected during the conduct of a clinical trial. The risk-based approach to quality management also has an impact on the content of the TMF. To ensure continued guidance once the Clinical Trials Regulation (EU) No. 536/2014 (‘Regulation’) comes into application, this guidance already prospectively considers the specific requirements of the Regulation with respect to the TMF.


Guideline on the content, management and archiving of the clinical trial master file (paper and/or electronic)