The records of student and pupil nurses who discontinued nurse training within the North Staffordshire Health Authority between the beginning of 1981 and the end of November 1986 were examined. The reasons for leaving were classified according to comments made by the learners themselves as well as impressions of tutorial staff. Nine categories for leaving were formed for students and pupils. Stress and unsuitability for nursing were significant factors in student wastage while stress was of high significance in relation to pupil wastage.