Most surgeons in academic hospitals will have had a request from an enthusiastic research scientist to take samples of tissue during an operation. It seems reasonable and most patients will respond positively. But of course it is not quite that simple. The regulation of donation of human tissue for basic research is clearly defined but usually less rigorous than that which covers translational research and clinical trials. An exception has been the donation of embryos for embryonic stem cell derivation. The specific issues related to obtaining cells from patients for this work has resulted in a different relationship between scientist and clinician. This will be considered. J. Cell. Biochem. 108: 1–2, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.