The Association for the Abolition of Animal Experiments was founded in 1979 in Zurich under the name of CIVIS-Switzerland by the Swiss race driver, best-selling author, medical historian and scientific antivivisectionist Hans Ruesch.  (The abbreviation CIVIS was coined by Ruesch and means Centro Informazioni Vivisezionistiche Internazionali Scientifiche – see the CIVIS Statement of Principles.) In 1996, the presidency and the administration of the Association were taken over by Dr. Christopher F. Anderegg, a medical doctor, biologist and former animal experimenter.

The Association strives for the abolition of all animal experiments on medical and scientific grounds and rejects both the "3R" principle (Refine, Reduce, Replace) and the development of equivalent "alternative methods" such as animal cell cultures, which are just as misleading and unreliable for humans as the animal experiments they are supposed to replace, and which lead to the repetition and perpetuation of animal experiments.

The Association calls for the use of safe, reliable research methods directly applicable to humans, including biochips, microdosing, computer modelling, clinical investigations of patients, epidemiological studies on population groups, biopsy and autopsy investigations, and experiments with human cell, tissue and organ cultures.

Through the publication of advertisements in the daily press and the distribution of fliers in mailboxes, the Association informs the public about the failures, dangers and uselessness of animal experimentation. These campaigns are essential, since time and time again reports appear in the media which portray animal experimentation as a useful and indispensable research method.