Chronically ill patients' perceptions of nursing care are particularly significant because such patients are more likely than others to have repeated and extended contact with nurses. Knowledge of which nursing interactions are perceived positively by the chronically ill can help nurses provide care that is satisfying to the patient. This phenomenological study found the definitive factor in positively perceived care to be the development and maintenance of confidence. The informants believed they would be well cared for and that the nurses were reliable and trustworthy. The respect and interest shown by the nurses reassured the informants that they were capable of coping with the future to the best of their abilities. Most informants felt unprepared to judge the nurses' competence but described a caring, compassionate approach combined with gentle handling, self-assurance, and recognition of the patient's own knowledge as contributing to confidence. Management of pain, facilitation of independence, and keeping the patient informed also were valued.