Medical residents in training are as much targets of pharmaceutical-industry marketing as are physicians in practice. This interaction is often subtle and takes the form of sponsorship of meals at academic events, support for conference travel, books, and items such as pens and notepads. Most residency programs direct little time towards training in ethics and the critical analysis of pharmaceutical-industry marketing. We propose a model for the relationship between residents and residency programs, and the pharmaceutical industry that addresses the need for such interaction to be viewed in light of the patient-centered ethic of professional conduct and the ideal of unbiased medical practice. A committee of residents at different levels of training and two staff physicians received the mandate to examine this issue. The committee developed a set of guidelines and a proposed schema for the handling of funds from pharmaceutical companies (still not implemented). Each residency program would develop a common fund for money donated by pharmaceutical companies. This fund would be administered by a committee with defined priorities. The presence of residents on this committee under staff preceptorship would serve as a springboard for education on the subject. Guidelines for acknowledgement of sponsorship, solicitation of funds, gifts for care of patients, ongoing education, and the wider applicability of these proposals were also developed. Residents' interaction with the pharmaceutical industry during training could have lifelong influence on medical practice. We hope that our model will promote critical appraisal of the potential risks and benefits of this interaction.