As part of a larger series addressing the intersection of law and medicine, this essay is the first of two introductory pieces. This article explores the nature of the physician-patient relationship and of the practice of medicine dating from the Hippocratic tradition to the end of the 19th century, a period during which a beneficence-based medical ethic remained relatively stable. The medical literature dating from the Hippocratic texts to the early codes of the American Medical Association did not include a meaningful role for the patient in the decision-making process. In fact, the practice of benevolent deception—the deliberate withholding of any information thought by the physician to be detrimental to the patient’s prognosis—was encouraged. However, as philosophers identified an inherent value in respecting patient self-determination and the law imposed a duty on physicians to obtain informed consent, 2,400 years of relative stability under the beneficence model gave way to the autonomy model.