Advances in DNA sequencing technology and in our understanding of the human genome are ushering in a new era of genomic medicine, one with dramatic potential to not only benefit society through research involving human tissue, but also to cause economic or psychosocial harms to tissue donors and their families. This delicate situation requires that the needs of tissue donors be carefully considered and balanced with those of the medical research community, especially on issues concerning confidentiality, consent, and compensation. We analyzed the tensions between tissue donors and researchers over the research use of human tissue. We also reviewed several approaches, including the establishment of tissue-trustee infrastructures at academic medical centers, aimed at achieving a more equitable balance between individual donor protection and societal benefits derived from tissue-based research. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:3377-3384.