It is self-evident that medical treatments have improved in recent centuries. Through a historical analysis this article demonstrates that experimental research has underpinned the success of modern medical therapy, but it also shows that there have been examples of unethical research and that these can still be found, even today. Whilst it is crucial that research continues, it is equally important that there is appropriate review. Although the health of research itself is central to our well-being, the community needs to be able to exercise its right to scrutinize such projects, not only to understand what the scientific medical community is undertaking but also to identify research it regards as unfair. In the United Kingdom this is the work of Research Ethics Committees.