The difficulty experienced by many baccalaureate student nurses in making the role transition from student to graduate nurse continues to pose problems for nursing education and nursing service personnel alike. A variety of instructional strategies described in the literature which claim to enhance the effectiveness of student learning in the clinical setting and promote role adjustment immediately upon graduation have been used by nursing faculty and nursing service personnel. Preceptorship is one such strategy. The author reviews the evolution of preceptorship within the nursing profession and explores factors which are provoking current interest in this concept. Available empirical data regarding the effect of preceptorship on student and graduate nurse performance in the clinical setting are presented and implications for nursing education discussed.