We designed a questionnaire survey to study internal medicine residents' plans to use a chaperone during the pelvic, breast, rectal, and testicular examinations. We found chaperone use by male and female residents differed markedly, and neither group planned to use chaperones universally. When examining female patients, male residents overall were very likely to use a chaperone during a pelvic exam, but less likely for the breast exam and rectal exam. For the female resident, there was a significantly lower likelihood of using chaperones during the pelvic, breast, or rectal exams. There was a much lower rate of chaperone use during the sensitive portions of the male physical examination compared with the female examination, with somewhat higher use by female residents. We concluded that male and female residents differ significantly in their patterns of chaperone use. It would be valuable to develop guidelines for chaperone use to help residents understand the issues involved in the choices, and to protect the residents from the possible medico-legal consequences of forgoing chaperones.