A low research base and inadequate research utilization are seen as obstacles to acquiring credible professional status for nursing. During recent years there has been some debate, both in Europe and in North America, about the extent to which nurses base their practice on research. This paper reviews recent empirical studles about research utilization, then goes on to describe a small pilot study carried out in the UK to attempt to measure research utilization among general nurses at F/G grade. A large-scale, generalizable survey using sirmlar methods is proposed to build on the knowledge gained from the pilot study. Tentative findings are put forward that show a positive attitude towards research among British clinical nurses. Specialist nurse advisors and research-based protocols are helpful to nurses in accessing research literature. The biggest deterrent to research utilization appears to be lack of perceived autonomy — some nurses feel unable to challenge medical colleagues and organizational managers and so fail to make use of research findings available to them. Significant differences are found between the two hospitals studied in the characteristics of their nursing staff, particularly in relation to their research awareness and degree of perceived autonomy.