Concern is growing about the occurrence of malnutrition in hospitals throughout the developed world. Reduced involvement of nurses in patients' nutritional care may be one of the contributing factors. This study explored nurses' attitudes and knowledge about nutrition and food service in hospital. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven nurses from the internal medical service of a large Australian acute care hospital. Analysis of the interview transcripts revealed that many nurses lacked the in-depth knowledge needed to give proper nutritional care to their patients. Although nurses considered nutritional care to be important many had difficulty in raising its priority above other nursing activities, as a result of time constraints and multitasking issues. Several problems relating to food service arrangements were also highlighted. The findings suggest a need to raise nurses' awareness of the importance of nutrition in patient outcome. This study provides information which will guide in-service nurse education programs about nutrition, and suggests strategies for practice and organizational change.