To better understand the available publications addressing ethical issues in rural health care we sought to identify the ethics literature that specifically focuses on rural America. We wanted to determine the extent to which the rural ethics literature was distributed between general commentaries, descriptive summaries of research, and original research publications. We identified 55 publications that specifically and substantively addressed rural health care ethics, published between 1966 and 2004. Only 7 (13%) of these publications were original research articles while (12) 22% were descriptive summaries of research and 36 (65%) were general commentaries. The majority of publications examined (55%) were clinically focused while 27% addressed organizational ethics and 18% addressed ethical ramifications of rural health care policy at a national or community level. Our findings indicate that there are a limited number of publications focusing on rural health care ethics, suggesting a need for scholars and researchers to more rigorously address rural ethics issues.