ABSTRACT Ethical debate around development aid has gradually grown and diversified, and a field that spans some aspects of policy, organisational and personal practice has partly emerged. After characterising this trend, the paper considers: (1) The key question of the types of obligation, if any, involved in aid; is aid purely charity and beyond obligation(s)? What do different views here imply for roles and conditions in aid? (2) The significance in aid, especially technical cooperation, of inter-personal relations and work-style and life-style issues. (3) Will specified ethical guidelines and codes for aid organisations and aid workers be worthwhile? The paper suggests that even a charity mode of aid entails important obligations concerning manner of operation, and that helpful guidelines are possible. Whether directive codes will help is more open to doubt.