The aim of the Belmont Report was to ‘identify the basic ethical principles that should underlie the conduct of biomedical and behavioural research involving human subjects and to develop guidelines which should be followed to assist that such research is conducted within those principles’. Although the findings of the report were not formally adopted, it has been very influential, particularly within the United States. The report is divided into three sections: the boundaries between research and practice, basic ethical principles (respect for persons, beneficence and justice) and applications (informed consent, assessment of risks and benefits, and selection of subjects).