Deceit and fraud in medical research is a serious problem for the credibility of published literature. Although estimating its prevalence is difficult, reported incidences are alarming. The spectrum of the problem ranges from what may seem as rather innocuous gift authorship to wholesale fabrication of data. Potential factors which may have promoted fraud and deceit include financial gain, personal fame, the competitive scientific environment and scientific hubris. Fraud and deceit are difficult to detect and are generally brought to the fore by whistleblowers. Although most cases may be dealt with at an institutional level, regulatory organisations such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and Medical Research Ethics Committee (MREC) have been established to monitor and try to remedy the problem.