This paper reports on the reasons why patients agreed to or declined entry into randomized trials of cancer following discussions conducted by clinicians in both District General and University Hospitals. Two hundred and four patients completed a 16-item questionnaire following the consultation, of these 112 (55%) were women with breast cancer. Overall results showed that 147 (72.1%) patients accepted entry to a randomized clinical trial (RCT). The main reasons nominated for participating in a trial were that 'others will benefit' (23.1%) and 'trust in the doctor' (21.1%). One of the main reasons for declining trial entry was that patients were 'worried about randomization' (19.6%). There was a significantly higher acceptance rate for trials providing active treatment in every arm 98 (80.6%) compared with those trials with a no treatment arm 46 (60.5%), chi2 test P= 0.003. The study outlines a number of factors that appear to influence a patient's decision to accept or decline entry into an RCT of cancer therapy. An important factor is whether or not the trial offers active treatment in all arms of the study. Communication that promotes trust and confidence in the doctor is also a powerful motivating influence.