Eduard Seidler sets his discussion of the teaching of medical ethics in the Federal Republic of Germany against an historical background. Immediately after the Second World War the freshness of the memory of the 'Nuremberg Medical Trials' influenced the way in which moral dilemmas were treated in Germany. At the present time no systematic instruction in medical ethics is provided in either undergraduate or postgraduate or continuing medical education. As a result of this, an inquiry was set up in 1977/78. Questionnaires were sent out with a view to collecting information on how subjects referring to medical ethics are treated during medical training. The inquiry showed that no special discipline can claim to be the only competent one for medical ethics, but that everyone has something to contribute. Dr Seidler concludes by stating that basic curricula related to the problems of medical ethics would have to be developed and should be carried on continuously within the training programme.