In many long-term care settings, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is regarded as an available treatment option. However, for the majority of long-term care residents the expected outcome following CPR is poor. This descriptive study explored the CPR decision-making process in two long-term care institutions. This was accomplished through the administration of questionnaires to nursing staff, residents, residents' family members and through completion of a chart review of deceased individuals. This paper primarily addresses the role of nurses in the CPR decision-making process in long-term care. Nurses were rarely explicitly involved in the CPR decision-making process. Knowledge deficits of nurses concerning the CPR policy at the institutions and the expected outcomes of CPR were identified. Also noted were inconsistencies between policy and practice, with CPR being withheld in practice more often than dictated by protocol. Strategies to facilitate the CPR decision-making process in long-term care settings are suggested, and specific roles for nurses in relation to CPR decision making are presented.