This article aims to develop a Lacanian approach to bioethics. Point of departure is the fact that both psychoanalysis and bioethics are practices of language, combining diagnostics with therapy. Subsequently, I will point out how Lacanian linguistics may help us to elucidate the dynamics of both psychoanalytical and bioethical discourse, using the movie One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone as key examples. Next, I will explain the ‘topology’ of the bioethical landscape with the help of Lacan’s three dimensions: the imaginary, the symbolical and the real. This will culminate in an assessment of the dynamics of bioethical discourse with the help of Lacan’s theorem of the four discourses. Bioethics, I will argue, is not a homogeneous discourse. Rather, four modalities of bioethical discourse can be distinguished, all of them displaying specific weaknesses and strengths, opportunities and threats. This will be elucidated with the help of two case studies, namely the debates on human reproductive technologies and on the use of animals as biomedical research models.