This article discusses issues that might count as 'ethical' in the care of people with dementia and some of the dilemmas that occur. Ethical theories, such as virtue ethics, deontology and consequentialism are discussed, and ethical approaches that can be useful are outlined. Thinking about matters case-by-case is another approach, one that forms the first component of the Nuffield Council's ethical framework for dementia care, which is described. Case examples are provided, raising issues of autonomy, diagnosis, restraint and withholding treatment. The notion of personhood and the need to understand the person with dementia as broadly as possible are emphasised. Recommendations for nursing practice are included.