In the UK, postgraduate medical educational events are commonly sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, often with the provision of food and gifts with a small monetary value (e.g. pens and torches). The involvement of pharmaceutical companies with doctors has been discussed extensively (Abbasi & Smith, 2003; Shooter, 2005). We have chosen to consider sponsorship of educational events from an ethical point of view in order to see if this approach can provide guidance for a situation that is the norm in many hospitals, but of increasing concern to educationalists. We also hope to illustrate how the application of ethical principles can be applied to a medical education issue.