Nursing in the People's Republic of China, like elsewhere, has undergone monumental changes during the 20th century This paper focuses on one of those changes by examining the professional socialization process of the first class from the first baccalaureate in nursing (BSN) programme in China since 1952 These data from this first BSN class are part of a larger study on professional socialization in which data were collected from four of the recently established 11 BSN programmes in China To put these data into a historical context, some highlights of Chinese nursing history are noted These will help us to understand the present-day situation in this the world's most populous nation