This paper reports on the use of focus groups to investigate the development of clinical nurse specialist roles. The need for this project was identified during initial research, undertaken in two London Hospital Trusts, to assess the variety and nature of advanced clinical nursing roles already in evidence. From analysis of these data, this second stage of the research developed, in which the future of the clinical nurse specialist role within these two trust settings was explored. The initial steps of grounded theory, analytical techniques and procedures, using a constant comparative method, were used to analyse the findings from five focus groups (composed of a total of 25 nurses from two trusts). From the data, six categories were identified; role components; experience versus education; supportive strategies; personal qualities; future role development and development strategies. These categories provide the framework for discussing the findings of the research, within the context of the available literature. This examination of the clinical nurse specialist role highlights issues for career progression and education strategies. Both will need careful planning, in order for the clinical nurse specialist role to be considered and evolve as part of a potential strategy for the development of nursing roles within the two trusts and on a national level.