This paper reports on the conceptual design and development of an avatar-based 3D virtual environment in which trainee interpreters and their potential clients (e.g. students and professionals from the fields of law, business, tourism, medicine) can explore and simulate professional interpreting practice. The focus is on business and community interpreting and hence the short consecutive and liaison interpreting modes. The environment is a product of the European collaborate project IVY (Interpreting in Virtual Reality). The paper begins with a state-of-the-art overview of the current uses of ICT in interpreter training (section 2), with a view to showing how the IVY environment has evolved out of existing knowledge of these uses, before exploring how virtual worlds are already being used for pedagogical purposes in fields related to interpreting (section 3). Section 4 then shows how existing knowledge about learning in virtual worlds has fed into the conceptual design of the IVY environment and introduces that environment, its working modes and customised digital content. This is followed by an analysis of the initial evaluation feedback on the first environment prototype (section 5), a discussion of the main pedagogical implications (section 6) and concluding remarks (section 7). The more technical aspects of the IVY environment are described in Ritsos et al. (2012).