The informed consent has been practiced as a clinical and ethical principle for many years in China. With traditional emphasis on the family as a whole and a hierarchical social structure there is a strong ethic of indebtedness and obligations for one family member to others. Within this moral framework there is a special need for evoking a sense of self-restraint and communal responsibility towards the well-being of a family instead of an individual. As a result, the implementation of the informed consent in China sometimes takes a different direction. This paper intends to explore how traditional values systems, namely Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism inf luence the way of the informed consent is interpreted and practiced. The paper has offered several specific medical cases to show the diff iculties in excising the principle of informed consent due to an absence of individual autonomy needed for a general requirement of competency and a lack of public medical information. Finally, I shall discuss the possibility of“ modernizing” traditional ethics.