This article examines the problems that research ethics confronts in developing countries and the impact that research in developing countries has had on research ethics. In order to show this it analyzes the first paradigmatic cases that gave rise to the ‘classic’ analysis of research ethics. Hence, in this article, many of the ethical concerns apply wherever research is conducted and are not particular to developing countries. Secondly, the article describes the complex process of research by analyzing different research actors and their interests in the current research process. Thirdly, it sketches some of the recent cases that have prompted fierce ethical debate surrounding research in developing countries.