The ability to differentiate between what is just and what is unjust may be considered as the precondition to demand one's own rights. Starting from this point, this research was carried out to describe the level of awareness of patients concerning their rights. The main hypothesis was: the higher the socioeconomic and cultural level of patients, the higher is their awareness of their rights. This research was conducted in one of the state hospitals in Turkey in 1998. It is a descriptive study carried out on 128 inpatients in medical and surgical wards. The data were collected by a questionnaire, which included questions on the rights of patients and gave sample cases. The sample cases were designed by referring to the World Health Organization Declaration on the Promotion of Patients' Rights in Europe. Only 23% of the participants were able to recognize patient rights, while 32% could not; the majority (45%) were undecided in recognizing patient rights. The awareness scores were statistically significantly different for educational level categories (F = 5.84; p < 0.001). A continuously declining trend was observed for patient rights awareness scores from the highest educational level to the lowest. This partly proves the hypothesis of the research. However, the awareness scores were not significantly different for the other background variables (p > 0.05). Most strikingly, 38% of the patients had no idea about their diagnosis and 63% of those who had undergone surgery did not know why they had had the operation.