In nursing literature much attention has been paid to patients' experiences while in intensive care. Extensive literature exists examining the longer-term effects of critical care [Jones C, Humphris GM, Griffiths RD. Psychological morbidity following critical illness - the rationale for care after intensive care. Clinical Intensive Care 1998;9:199-205; Griffiths RD, Jones C. ABC of intensive care. Recovery from intensive care. Br Med J 1999;319:417-429]. There is an apparent scarcity of data examining patients' experiences immediately following discharge to wards. A Husserlian phenomenological approach was utilised to gain some understanding of the experience of patients following transfer from intensive care. Ten patients selected purposively comprised the sample. Interviews were performed on the wards 3-5 days following transfer from intensive care. Data was analysed utilising () [Colaizzi PF. Psychological Research as the phenomenologist views it. In: Valle R, King M, editors. Alternatives for psychology. New York: Oxford University Press; 1978. p. 48-71] procedural approach to phenomenological interpretation and analysis. Three major themes emerged: physical response, psychological response and provision of care. These provide a possible framework for patient assessment. Implications for future practice and study are discussed.