In 1978 the Laboratory for the epidemiology of chronic diseases and anthropology of the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health of the University of Zagreb was established.
In 1986 the Department for Anthropology of the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health of the University of Zagreb was established.

The Ministry of Science, Education and Sport of the Republic of Croatia has established the Institute for Anthropological Research as an independent scientific institute on February 10, 1992. The Institute has thus become the youngest scientific institution, and is also participating in education process at the University of Zagreb. The Institute was established following the reorganization of the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health of the University of Zagreb, and upon positive responses of all members of the University of Zagreb, who have found it necessary to form such an institution in Croatia. The establishment of the Institute for Anthropological Research in 1992 was based on the need to better organize the scientific, professional and educational work in the Republic of Croatia in the area of anthropology as a medical, natural, social and humanistic science, since the scientific institution of this type did not exist until then. The Institute is making it possible for the continuous scientific and research work in the area of anthropology to take place, based on its own, as well as on numerous world-wide experiences and achievements.The main topics being studied within departments of the Institute are all directed towards the study of numerous interactions that affected the shaping of human populations in this area (as a specific ecological niche) and in time (regarding the genetic generations and the transmission of the genetic material) throughout the biological and socio-cultural history, by means of a holistic approach. The anthropological investigations of our island and peninsular populations, which are in many areas disappearing (primarily through depopulation and selective migration), and which are reproductively isolated groups that have been and are subject to different ecological pressures, oblige us to, in this generation, scientifically collect the data on socio-cultural, biological and medical characteristics of our population and study the modes of formation of today’s population structure, with regard to the numerous pressures of different ecological factors they are exposed to.Throughout the aggression on the Republic of Croatia, the staff of the Institute has initiated among their colleagues – anthropologists and ethnologists from all over the world – an action which resulted in numerous letters of moral and intellectual support to the Republic of Croatia. The Croatian anthropologists have thus given their contribution to the better and unbiased dissemination of information relating to events during the war in this part of Europe. We are especially proud of the fact that, in the midst of the war, we have been able to organize the first international scientific course in the internationally recognized and independent Republic of Croatia. The Course titled “Anthropology and Health: Who is normal? Perspectives on Health and Human Variation” was held in August 1992, in Motovun, with the participation of friends and colleagues from abroad (with most participants coming from the USA).