Primary scientific literature seems not to be growing at a greater rate than the scientific community it serves. The impression of excessive proliferation arises mainly from the differentiation of journals to accommodate rapid expansion in specialized fields of research. A large fraction of this literature is of marginal value, but should not be excluded from comprehensive archives for possible retrieval. For awareness of significant current developments, however, scientists depend on a small number of core journals whose quality is maintained by editorial selectivity and competition. Many leading scientists feel that there has been a serious deterioration in the quality of the scientific literature in recent years. If this is true, is it to be attributed to the fragmentation of primary publications into many specialized journals of low quality? Is the presumed proliferation taking place only among the commercial journals, or is it also visible in the scientific society press? How might this trend affect the attitude of the societies, and their international unions, toward the commercial journals? These questions were the seeds of this article. Unfortunately, none of them can yet be answered by reference to reliable evidence. It is extraordinarily difficult to confirm a subjective impression that there has been a significant decline in the quality of research publications over several decades. It is largely a matter of opinion whether any particular new journal was conceived as a result of publishing ``push'' or scientific ``pull.'' The relationship between commercial publishing and the scientific community is so close and symbiotic that it is not easy to imagine a change of attitude that would be efficacious against this particular ill without also causing damage in other respects. It may be wiser at this stage to recognize the deeper dimensions of the problem. The speciation of scientific journals is not a pathological sign; it is a natural accompaniment of the dynamic change and growth of scientific knowledge. Its ill effects can be mitigated by improved techniques and facilities for archival search and retrieval and by individual strategies of concentration on the core literature. Rapidly developing research areas not only pose the most problems for communication, they also provide the opportunity for new ways of solving these problems. But short of a worldwide, learned-society monopoly over scientific publishing, with a stringent system of licensing papers for publication and citation, the phenomenon of proliferation cannot be eliminated by controlling the pressure to publish a paper nearer to its sources. Within the context of an open scientific literature, not constrained at the margins by expert peer review, there is no substitute for competitive standards of quality and adequate attention to the intellectual tasks of classification and indexing.