Over the last two decades, there has a substantial body of research concerned with a more integrated use of IT in the design process in the construction industry and broader engineering sector. The main focus of this research has been on achieving integration via product data sharing and exchange. This paper reviews the main research efforts in product data sharing and exchange and highlights certain areas where more systematic research is required. In particular, it considers the distribution of the design data in an integrated environment as a basic requirement, reflecting the fragmented nature and adversarial behaviour that characterises the construction industry, and identifies the need for more systematic research in the development of distributed product data sharing design environments. The role of XML and Web Services in the development of such environments is highlighted.