We incorporated the views of patients to develop a comprehensive set of ideal physician behaviors. Telephone interviews were conducted in 2001 and 2002 with a random sample of 192 patients who were seen in 14 different medical specialties of Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz, and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Interviews focused on the physician-patient relationship and lasted between 20 and 50 minutes. Patients were asked to describe their best and worst experiences with a physician in the Mayo Clinic system and to give specifics of the encounter. The interviewers independently generated and validated 7 ideal behavioral themes that emerged from the interview transcripts. The ideal physician is confident, empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful, and thorough. Ways that physicians can incorporate clues to the 7 ideal physician behaviors to create positive relationships with patients are suggested.