This study compares sources of nursing stress and job satisfaction among 181 mental handicap and 24 hospice nurses. It was hypothesized that nursing stress varies as a consequence of nursing speciality. Analysis of variance revealed differing features of nursing stress between the two specialities. Hospice nurses reported stress as primarily associated with death and dying and inadequate preparation to meet the emotional needs of patients and their families, while mental handicap nurses reported stress related to workload, conflict with other nurses and nursing environment. The results suggest that two additional factors that did not differ between specialities require further examination, namely patient behaviour and purposelessness of nursing care. Job satisfaction also differed between specialities with hospice nurses reporting higher satisfaction with supervision, co-workers, and pay, and lower satisfaction with promotion in comparison to mental handicap nurses. Within the mental handicap groups nursing stress correlated with job satisfaction, state-trait anxiety and non-psychotic psychiatric disturbance in predicted directions. Analysis of the above variables with respect to mental handicap nursing grade was also undertaken. Overall results indicate the importance of nursing speciality as a major factor influencing nursing stress.