We carried out an analysis of complaints against doctors in our Accident and Emergency Department received from 1 January 1979 to 31 December 1988. There were 66 complainants in all, comprising 37 relatives, 21 patients and eight persons acting in a professional capacity. The majority of complaints (80 out of 125) were about poor communication and dissatisfaction with diagnosis and treatment. A small number of complainants had unrealistic expectations of the Accident and Emergency service. A total of 83.3% of complaints were against Senior House Officers who saw 61.3% of all patients. We concluded that an improvement in the communicative, diagnostic and therapeutic skills of doctors would minimize justified complaints.