In 1982, the Central Council for Indian Medicine (CCIM) issued guidelines on medical education and practice and a code of ethics for practitioners of Indian medicine, i.e. ayurveda, unani and siddha. These were at least partly based on the traditions of the respective medical systems and have been revised and adapted over the years. The ethical guidelines, however, followed standards set by the World Medical Association in the Declaration of Geneva of 1948 and the International Code of Ethics of 1949 and have not been updated since they were first issued. Rather than being a self-expression of the indigenous medical professions and their traditional values, the CCIM code of ethics aligned itself with international standards, thus ideologically placing the Indian systems of medicine on a par with biomedicine. This echoes developments in the early history of ayurvedic professionalisation, which was strongly influenced by the regulation and formalisation of medicine in Britain. In this article, I will trace the historical development of ayurvedic professional ethics, highlighting links with British health care regulations and international developments in the field of medical ethics.