The need for the preparation and professional development of ward sisters is now well recognised, and recent actual and proposed changes affecting nursing and nursing education have served to highlight its role and the need further. The London Postgraduate Teaching Hospitals have responded by establishing a training scheme for their sisters*. This aims to develop the knowledge and skills of sisters who are relatively new or inexperienced and combines periods of theoretical study with observation of work on wards and/or consolidation of learning in the sister's own clinical setting. The features of the scheme include a course with a comprehensive curriculum related to most, if not all, of the aspects of the sister's role, the extensive use of experiential learning methods, the use of facilitators to create links between the course itself, course members and the workplace, formal and informal evaluation, particularly during the pilot period, and a specifically appointed project director. The evaluation of this innovation has indicated positive outcomes, both in terms of improvements in individuals and beneficial effects in the hospitals. As a result of the relative success of the first 2 years, the scheme has now been incorporated into a programme of provision for trained nursing staff, and has stimulated the development of other initiatives for other grades of staff.