International cooperation is an integral part of furthering medical and scientific progress. Many specilist societies exist for that purpose and have written into their constitutions that such cooperation and coordination is their aim. They hope to achieve their aims by exchange, in all languages, of information and by so doing strengthen the relations between individual physicians and scentists as well as between corporate professional bodies from different countries. However, at the same time emphasis is laid on the political neutrality of such organsations. Increasingly, this 'neutrality' is being questioned as doctors and scientists become aware of abuse and distortion of their profession taking place in other countries. H Merskey highlights the problems and offers his opinion on the ethics of maintaining these professional relationships with colleagues abroad who are involved in such abuse and distortion.