Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) need considerable education to enable them to provide effective self-care for their chronic illness. No information has been published about the learning needs of this population. The purpose of this study was to examine hospitalized CHF patients and their nurses' perceptions regarding the importance and realism of typical patient education content. An instrument to assess learning needs was developed and piloted for use in this study. Thirty hospitalized patients and 26 nurses were surveyed. Both nurses and patients rated all information as important to learn and realistic to learn during the patients' hospitalizations. Patients and nurses agreed that medication information was the most important to learn. Generally, patients rated information as more important than nurses rated the same information areas. Suggested nursing interventions and future research endeavours are addressed.