Patients have the right to be fully informed about the likely benefits and risks of any proposed examination or treatment, and practitioners are obliged to obtain informed consent beforehand. Accurate information about the risks of acupuncture is available following publication of the results of two prospective surveys. At a joint meeting on the safety of acupuncture, members of the three largest UK professional bodies expressed a need to establish what information on risks patients should be given. A standard Information Leaflet was developed by consensus between thesc organisations, and is intended to be used as a stimulus for discussion of standard risks as well as any particular risks that might apply to individual patients. Additionally, it may be used as a form for written consent when this is required. To provide the context for using the Leaflet, the legal and ethical bases of informed consent for medical procedures are discussed.