Evelyne Shuster opens this article with the Nuremberg Code - the precursor to the Declaration of Helsinki and other international and national guidance on the ethics of medical research. 

Shuster discusses the role of physicians in the formulation of the Code during the famous Nuremberg trials of Nazi physicians. The lawyers' arguments about unethical research conducted in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States demonstrate how views about what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable research have changed over the last century. 

The article goes on to summarise how medical researchers have used the Code, and its effect on guidance and regulation over the five decades following its publication.