To survey internal medicine residency program directors regarding interactions between their residents and pharmaceutical company (PC) representatives (PCRs) a questionnaire was sent to the directors of all Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-approved internal medicine residency programs. The survey included 444 program directors, of whom 272 (61.16%) responded. The majority of program directors, 228 (83.8%), allowed PCRs to meet with residents during working hours and 241 (88.6%) permitted PC sponsorship of conferences. About half of the program directors were "moderately" or "very" concerned about the potential adverse effects of PC marketing on resident attitudes and prescribing practices. Seventy percent "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that the benefits of PC sponsorship outweigh the adverse effects and 41.5% believed that refusal to allow PCRs to meet with residents would jeopardize PC funding of other departmental activities. Most program directors reported that alternate funds for conferences were available if PC support was withdrawn. "Unethical" marketing activities were observed by 14.3% of program directors and 37.5% reported that residents had participated in PC-sponsored trips during the 3 years prior to the survey. At the time of this survey, only 35.3% of programs had developed formal policies regulating PCR activities and 25.7% provided residents with formal instruction on marketing issues. Knowledge of the current extent of PCR interactions with residents may be helpful to program directors in developing policies regulating PC-marketing activities.