In the past few years, investors from different European countries have become increasingly interested in the new opportunities that socially responsible investing (SRI) can offer. Empirical research into this subject has often assumed as ‘given’ the meaning attributed to the terms ‘ethical’ or ‘socially responsible’, thus concentrating more on other elements (particularly financial performance). This paper, through the analysis of the characteristics of ethical funds traded in Italy, investigates the possible contents that the terms ‘ethical’ and/or ‘socially responsible’ can assume in practice, with particular attention to the underlying values and to how these values are integrated into the selection process. This analysis brings to light the impressive variety of ethical funds traded in Italy. In particular, it reveals the ‘Italian model’, whose distinguishing characteristics seem to be the following: recentness of issue, options for charitable donations, almost exclusive use of screening strategies, use of ‘best in class’ and ‘minimum tolerance quota’ indications, preference for ethical indices, application of commissions no higher than the national average, presence of ethical committees and the utilization of consulting or rating agencies.