The use of human specimens in research has contributed to significant scientific and medical advancements. However, the development of sophisticated whole genome and informatics technologies and the increase in specimen and data sharing have raised new questions about the identifiability of specimens and the protection of participants in human specimen research.In the US, new regulations and policies are being considered to address these changes. This review discusses the current and proposed regulations as they apply to specimen research, as well as relevant policy discussions. It summarizes the ways that researchers and other stakeholders can provide their input to these discussions and policy development efforts. Input from all the stakeholders in specimen research will be essential for the development of policies that facilitate such research while at the same time protecting the rights and welfare of research participants. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.