It is well known that black American women are poorly represented in medically oriented research and that this has far reaching implications for their personal health, the health of their families and the overall health of the larger society. The research reported was premised on the assumption that learning more about black American women's beliefs and values regarding health and illness could inform public policy initiatives in the area of cancer prevention and control so that a more equitable basis for participation could be achieved in future medical and scientific research. Qualitative methods of research were used in this investigation. A semi-structured interview guide was used in 36 h. of in-depth and face-to-face interviews with 13 black American women recruited to the study using a snowball technique. The women interviewed were middle-class, professional and semi-professional women. The results of the study indicate that there is a poor understanding by the dominant white medical community concerning the beliefs and values of black patients and that this compromises their health and illness care. The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment is often used as the rationale for the low recruitment of black women into clinical trials both therapeutic and non-therapeutic. The women interviewed do not agree with this claim. These women suggest that if they were asked to participate in trials and the trial was relevant to their primary medical concerns they would consider joining. The research results indicate the importance of using specific research methodologies and a number of recommendations are presented.