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The aim of this study was to describe nurse leaders’ perceptions of ethical recruitment in clinical research.Nurse leaders are expected to get involved in clinical research, but there are few studies that focus on their role, particularly the ethical issues.Qualitative data were collected from ten nurse leaders using thematic one-to-one interviews and analysed with content analysis.Nurse leaders considered clinical research at their workplace in relation to the key issues that enabled ethical recruitment of study subjects in clinical research. These were: early information and collaboration for incorporating clinical research in everyday work, an opportune and peaceful recruitment moment and positive research culture.Getting involved in clinical research is part of the nurse leader's professional responsibility in current health care. They have an essential role to play in ensuring that recruitment is ethical and that the dignity of study subjects is maintained.The duty of nurse leaders is to maintain good contact with other collaborators and to ensure good conditions for implementing clinical research at their site. This requires a comprehensive understanding of the overall situation on their wards. Implementing clinical research requires careful planning, together with educating, supporting and motivating nursing staff.