There is an opportunity to improve the training of practicing surgeons in minimal access techniques. Such improvement is desirable because it would allow for the introduction of innovation in a way that maximizes the benefit for patients while minimizing the harm that can result from the introduction of new techniques after inadequate training. This goal is consistent with basic biomedical principles that govern the behavior of surgeons. Individuals who place themselves in the role of a teacher of surgeons accept another level of responsibility and are governed not only by biomedical ethics but also by the ethics of teaching. Adherence to these two different governing ethical principles compels these teachers to apply the best educational principles in the development of educational courses. Review of motor skill learning theory would suggest that effective feedback and adequate practice opportunities are essential for the acquisition of motor skill and should be integrated into all skills-type continuing medical educational courses. The present trend is toward more objectivity in skill evaluation although evidence that this actually improves evaluation is lacking. Curriculum development and evaluation of this specific type of training course should follow those general principles proposed for the development of effective continuing medical education. © 2002, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.