The availability of partially effective therapies for some forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) raises practical and ethical issues for future placebo-controlled clinical trials. An international Task Force of clinicians, statisticians, ethicists and regulators was convened to discuss these issues and develop consensus. The Task Force concluded that placebo-controlled clinical trials in forms of MS for which partially effective therapies exist were ethical, so long as study subjects were fully apprised of the availability of such therapies and were encouraged to pursue them outside of a clinical trial. Patients who decline to utilize available treatments, after proper education and counseling, or those that fail all therapies can be considered to have no treatment alternatives and thus may participate in a placebo-controlled trial.