Research on animal diseases in East Africa was first initiated in 1938 when a Central Veterinary Research Institute was established at Kabete. In 1949, it was decided that all the research aspects dealing with the greater East Africa be moved to a new site at Muguga. The construction of the Centre was completed in 1954 and was known as the East African Research Organisation (EAVRO) under the auspices of the East African Common Services Organisation (EACSO) which later became the East African Community (EAC). With the collapse of the EAC in 1977, the Centre was absorbed into the Ministry of Agriculture and renamed the Veterinary Research Department (VRD).
The Science and Technology (Amendment) Act CAP 250 of 1979 but whose commencement was backdated to 1977 established the semi-autonomous Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) which essentially amalgamated VRD and the former East African Agricultural and Forestry Research Organisation (EAAFRO). Subsequently the institute was reorganised in 1986 to incorporate all research centres dealing with agricultural and livestock research in the then ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. The centre’s name changed to National Veterinary Research Centre (NVRC) and eventually to Veterinary Research Centre (VRC).
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Act (2013) that commenced on 1st July 2014 established Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) with 16 research institutes among them Veterinary Science Research Institute (VSRI).