In the event of an influenza pandemic, many ethical issues will arise in terms of health risks, resource allocation, and management decisions. Planning decisions may be controversial, such as rationing of antivirals, resource allocation (including hospital beds and vaccinations), occupational risk, rostering of staff, responsibilities of health care workers, quarantine measures, and governance issues. A clear ethical framework is needed to enable understanding of the decision-making process and optimise acceptance of decisions by health care workers and other members of an affected community. Planning decisions need to start being examined now, and will require input from a broad group of experts: health care providers, infrastructure managers, lawyers, ethicists, public health physicians, and community members. The process will need to be open, honest and dynamic.