In his famous 1966 New England Journal of Medicine article, Henry Beecher concluded that a critical safeguard for protecting human participants, more reliable than informed consent, was the “presence of an intelligent, informed, conscientious, compassionate, responsible investigator.” This article examines Beecher’s appeal to reliance on the “virtuous” investigator in light of the critical role that investigators play in research ethics and the systems of research protections that have been developed since Beecher’s writing. It addresses the extent to which research ethics rely on virtuous investigators; the meaning of virtuous, as distinct from compliance with the rules and regulations that guide ethical research; the particular virtues that it might be important for investigators to have; and the impact of the existing system of human subjects protections on the virtuous investigator. The virtuous investigator who is motivated to take ethical responsibilities seriously is an essential safeguard for the protection of human research participants and an important complement to the system of oversight protections. However, since the current human subjects protection system does not promote virtue or ethical resourcefulness by investigators, attention to enhancing a culture of professional responsibility might serve to forge a synergy between the protections afforded by the current oversight system and those provided by the virtuous investigator.