The new Northern Ontario Rural Medical School is to be developed to have a significant impact on the education, recruitment, and retention of physicians in rural and northern Ontario and Canada. It will be a collaborative partnership between Laurentian University, Sudbury and Lakehead University, Thunder Bay (1000 km apart), and will have a network of learning sites throughout Northern Ontario (almost 1,000,000 km2). The curriculum will be patient-centred, clinical problem-based, and systems-organised, with a significant health determinant focus, and Aboriginal health content and context. Small group learning will be used in a distributed learning network with advanced information technology support. The new Northern Ontario Rural Medical School will aim to graduate highly qualified physicians with state-of-the-art medical education, with enhanced knowledge, skills, and interest, in Aboriginal, rural, northern, and under serviced health care.