The advantages of outcome-based education for medical students have been recognised for several years and in several countries. Until recently in Vietnam, as in many countries, the curriculum for medical doctors was a broad framework that individual teachers filled in according to their own ideas and experience. During the past few years, the main eight medical schools in Vietnam have worked together to develop detailed learning objectives within the framework from the Ministries of Health and of Education and Training. The process was planned in an innovative and participatory way that involved more than one thousand teachers and other experts and resulted in a book listing the expected outcome in the form of the knowledge, attitudes and skills expected of a medical doctor graduating from any medical school in Vietnam. The process of identifying the objectives was followed by revision of the curriculum to be more community-oriented and to include more focus on teaching of skills, and by production of teaching, learning and assessment materials to fit the new curriculum. The process is described as an example of a comprehensive and bottom-up approach to curriculum development that could provide an example for other disciplines and schools in Vietnam or elsewhere.