A multiple case study design was used to explore the practice of health education in acute care settings in Hong Kong. Two case studies, a medical ward and a surgical ward, were selected to reflected to reflect the real setting in which nurses carry out health education in acute care. Data collection methods involved the use of non-participant observation and semi-structured interviews. Seven nurses and eight patients were interviewed to explore their understanding of health education concepts, the use made in the wards of health education and the factors influencing such practice in the acute settings. Individual and cross-case analysis showed that respondents' understanding of the concept of health education was limited to patient information-giving. Although the importance of health education in acute patient care was acknowledged, the degree to which health education featured in nurses' practice was minimal. Many available opportunities for health education were missed and factors such as nurses' busy-ness and the associated lack of time and staff were identified as influencing health education practice in these acute care settings. Implications for practice and future studies were discussed in the light of these findings.