The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) held its annual Scientific Planning Retreat on April 4-5, 2011. The discussion focused on strategies for assessing the contribution of NIAMS-supported research to the world of science in particular areas; in other words, portfolio analysis. Specific topics that were addressed included scleroderma; skin innate immunity; tissue engineering and regenerative medicine; translational medicine in muscle diseases; and bone physiology. Attendees also explored common pathways leading to high-impact discoveries. The sessions were designed to help position the Institute to analyze what it has done thus far, in terms of NIAMS-supported research; consider methods for identifying needs, gaps, and opportunities; and improve our understanding of ongoing studies and emerging areas of research.