In 1999 the International Council of Nurses recognised workplace violence as a significant issue in nursing. During the same year the Australian Institute of Criminology reported that health was the most violent industry. This study examined the nature and extent of violence in NSW hospital emergency departments. Emergency nurses experienced violent incidents in their department, in the wards and outside the hospital setting. Every respondent (n=266) experienced some form of violence at least weekly. Ninety-two incidents involved lethal weapons. Ninety-two percent of perpetrators were patients or their relatives, however other staff members were also implicated. Non-reporting of violence is an issue as over 70% of incidents were not referred to authorities. Drugs, alcohol and emergency department waiting times are the most significant predisposing factors. Most emergency nurses are not satisfied with the response of administration to violent incidents within hospitals.