Ethical complexities associated with research involving vulnerable and marginalized population groups are well recognized, while practical solutions to these challenges are somewhat less well described. In this article we focus on strategies for addressing interrelated practical, methodological and ethical issues which may arise during research with refugee-background participants considered vulnerable. The article draws on a study exploring the impact of social networks and support on the resettlement experiences of newly-arrived migrant youth of refugee background in Australia. Three key sets of issues are discussed: developing research processes that maximize the benefits of involvement for participants while reducing potential harms; enhancing capacities for participants to give informed consent; and adapting research methods to heighten their relevance to the circumstances of participants' lives and enhance their engagement in the research. We argue that promoting ethical practice and methodological validity are mutually reinforcing objectives and illustrate how processes of ethical reflexivity were applied to resolve methodological challenges, promote autonomy and capacity of research participants and enhance the potential for outcomes to be rigorous and useful.