Twenty-five learner nurses who had just completed their first two wards were questionned about the behaviour of other ward members towards them. Although many ward sisters’ and charge nurses’ behaviour was positive towards learners, just under 50% of learners’ responses indicated that the ward sister/charge nurse was sometimes rude and did not make them feel ‘at home’. The ward sister/charge nurse's behaviour was, on average, more negative than another liked qualified staff, whose behaviour was more negative than a more experienced student on the ward. The ward sister/charge nurse's behaviour was the major determinant of ward preference by the learner. However, the behaviour of ward members tended to correlate, providing evidence of a ‘ward atmosphere’. There is a need for leadership and educational training for ward sisters and charge nurses.