The contribution of nurses is a significant but notably under-researched aspect of hospital-based eating disorders treatment. This paper reports a qualitative interview-based study in which 15 nurses were interviewed about nursing children and adolescents diagnosed with eating disorder. A discourse analytic methodology was employed to analyse the resulting interview transcripts and focuses, in particular, on elucidating the various ways in which ‘eating disorders nursing’ was construed in participants' accounts. Three key constructions were revealed in which ‘eating disorders nursing’ was discursively constituted (i) as ‘loving’ or empathetic support, (ii) as a surveillance and disciplining of patients and (iii) as a constant and ever-present care. The implications of these constructions are discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.