Cultural influences on anatomy teaching and learning have been investigated by application of a questionnaire to medical students in British and Chinese Medical Schools. Results from the responses from students of the two countries were analyzed. Both groups found it easier to understand anatomy in a clinical context, and in both countries, student learning was driven by assessment. Curriculum design differences may have contributed to the British view wherein students were less likely to feel time pressure and enjoyed studying anatomy more than their Chinese counterparts. Different teaching approaches resulted in British students being more likely to recite definitions to learn, and the Chinese students found learning from cross-sectional images easy. Cultural differences may account for the observation that British students were more inclined to ask questions in class, and the preference of Chinese students to study in small groups. The findings give evidence to show how ‘cultures of learning’ influence students' approaches and indicate the importance of cultural influences as factors amongst international and home learner groups. Anat Sci Ed 2:49–60, 2009. © 2009 American Association of Anatomists.