In public health, acting ethically and fulfilling obligations to the public requires careful reflection and intentional decision making. This article discusses the role that an ethics code in public health can play in providing both an educational tool and a behavioral standard. It argues that maintaining public trust requires that public health personnel to live up to standards of professionalism in their conduct, and in order to do so they must have the capabilities necessary to cope in an ethically reflective manner with the pressures and decisions they face. The article illustrates this perspective by discussing the public health ethics code revision process currently underway in the USA.