A survey of 106 medical students assessing their interest in and attitudes to medical ethics in the curriculum is reported by the authors. Results indicate that 64 per cent of the students rated the importance of medical ethics to good medical care as high or critical and 66 per cent desired to learn more about the topic. However, in reports of patient encounters identifying ethical issues, less than six per cent of the students reported a frequency of more than one such patient encounter per week. The students also demonstrated a greater awareness of more obvious ethical issues than of more subtle, less publicised issues. When asked how medical ethics should be taught, the students clearly affirmed a desire for an integrated exposure to the subject throughout the medical curriculum. Possible implications of these findings for medical education are discussed.