Many centrally based cancer protocols have begun to address the ethical issues concerning tissue banking for genetic research. A multidisciplinary subcommittee of the Madigan Army Medical Center Institutional Review Board was established to determine the scope of the problem and offer a concise, user-friendly policy with guidelines on how to control and monitor the use of stored tissue for future genetic and molecular research. Our institution participates in 69 Southern Oncology Group or National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project protocols and 47 Children's Oncology Group protocols. Of these protocols, 22 of 69 and 36 of 47, respectively, asked for tissue to be stored for future biologic study. Only 4 of 69 and 3 of 47, respectively, deal with specific consent for future genetic/biologic research. The multidisciplinary committee developed a policy that dealt with the following areas: exempt status, waived consent, informed consent, deceased status, family studies, and information flow. An algorithm was created to establish a system of checks and balances concerning privacy, protection and an appeals process.