Anesthesiologists are confronted with interesting and sometimes difficult ethical situations in pediatric surgery. They are forced to deal with everything from "do not resuscitate" issues, heroic last-chance surgical efforts, religious and cultural conflicts, disputes among colleagues, and situations that are, at worst, uncomfortable and, at best, miscarriages of duty. It is incumbent on anesthesiologists to learn how to logically and appropriately handle these issues. The pediatric surgical patient requires special consideration in bioethics. This article discusses the principle of autonomy and its ascension in importance in bioethics. The concepts of informed parental permission, assent, and dissent are presented. The authors provide a framework for ethical problem-solving, as well as a discussion of judicial decision-making. In addition, several examples of clinical-ethical situations and the processes used for resolutions are discussed. By using a well-reasoned ethical decision-making process, any situation, from the simple conflict to the most serious resuscitation and withdrawal of care issues, may be appropriately resolved.