While the concepts of race and ethnicity have been abused historically, they are potentially invaluable in epidemiology and public health. Epidemiology relies upon variables that help differentiate populations by health status, thereby refining public health and health care policy, and offering insights for medical science. Race and ethnicity are powerful tools for doing this. The prerequisite for their responsible use is a society committed to reducing inequalities and inequities in health status. When this condition is met, it is irresponsible not to utilize these concepts.