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This paper questions the implications of entrepreneurial responses to conditions of employment precarity by ‘healthy volunteers’ in phase I clinical trials in the United States. Such individuals are typically serial participants who often identify as professional volunteers and seek out drug studies as their primary source of income. Drawing on extensive qualitative research, this paper illustrates how healthy volunteers selectively import the identity of ‘hustler’ from the street environment and reposition it as connoting a set of valuable creative skills that give them a competitive edge over other participants. An entrepreneurial ethos allows them to view personal sacrifice and exposure to potentially dangerous drugs as smart investments leading to financially stable futures. These discursive moves normalize extractive, and at times dehumanizing, labour relations that offload expenses and risks to workers.