The South African MRC is currently in the process of revising its 1993 Guidelines on Ethics for Medical Research (3rd edn). The 4th edition takes the form of five separate booklets. Book 1 covers general principles of ethics in medical research, including research on children, vulnerable groups, international collaboration and epidemiology.

This guidance is based on a characterisation of the principles underlying research: autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. Topics covered in the guidance include the medical, legal and moral justification for research, the conduct of research, principles applying to research on healthy volunteers and on patients, ethical issues in qualitative research, ethical review and means of monitoring the conduct of research.

Book 2 covers ethics in reproductive biology and genetic research, book 3 contains guidelines on animal research, book 4 covers ethics in the use of biohazards and radiation and book 5 focuses on ethics in HIV vaccine trials.