The ATAC ('Arimidex', Tamoxifen, Alone or in Combination) trial is a randomised, double-blind, double-dummy trial, evaluating anastrozole alone or in combination with tamoxifen compared with tamoxifen alone, as a 5-year adjuvant treatment for postmenopausal patients with early breast cancer. The rapid rate of recruitment into this trial was a major achievement, as frequently encountered differences between projected and actual recruitment rates can threaten the successful completion of clinical trials. A questionnaire designed in order to highlight possible factors influencing the success of patient recruitment was completed by 62% of the ATAC trialists. This included 11 statements rated for their level of importance on a three-point scale. The top three motives for recruiting patients were: (1) the attractive scientific rationale of the trial (84%); (2) a design that was easy to explain to patients (79%); and (3) a pragmatic trial design in line with standard practice (76%). A new questionnaire will solicit opinion from the participating patients.