Their ambiguous legal and ethical status has become a barrier to adolescents' appropriate involvement in research from which they may benefit and which is needed to improve adolescent health care and to inform health policy. Involvement of adolescents in research should be based on a scientific and empathetic understanding of their developing capabilities and a careful assessment of risks and benefits. The important role of parents and communities as protectors of adolescents should be respected and enhanced as we acknowledge and respect developing adolescent autonomy. These guidelines provide a framework to interpret the federal regulations for protection of human subjects in light of the unique legal, ethical, developmental, contextual, and racial issues that affect adolescents. The guidelines are designed to protect individual adolescent research subjects and to facilitate important youth research that would promote the health of adolescents.