The study reported in this paper investigated the mentoring experiences and perceptions of pre-registration nursing students in one organization, on a theory/practice nursing module. It considered the extent to which students' understanding and expectations matched their actual experiences. Interviews were conducted with 35 students on a Common Foundation Programme, and 15 allocated mentors, using a semi-structured interview guide. These were done within the clinical setting of the wards on which the students were placed as part of their requirements for completion of the module. A distortion of the actual meaning of mentoring appears to be present because of the lack of clarity provided, both internally by organizations and by the English National Board (ENB) who have provided loose guidelines. The implications of this distortion are discussed. The application of a mentoring role in practice needs to be re-examined, with the provision of a clear structured guide internally and externally, with regard to the needs of students and staff who are expected to act as mentors. The study was small scale and cannot be generalized. Mentoring, however, is now widely used within pre-registration nursing education, even though it is generally considered that its use may not be appropriate. Follow-up studies need to be undertaken on an ongoing basis, to examine what actually happens in practice, and to consider ways of ensuring that the benefits for staff and students are enhanced.