The shortage of registered nurses in the healthcare sector is a problem in most countries. Swedish nurses tend to leave or seek new positions. However, few Swedish studies have addressed questions regarding what factors are of importance for nurses to perceive work satisfaction although satisfied nurses are linked to many positive organizational outcomes, e.g. improved quality of patient care. The aim of this study was to investigate what factors are of importance for nurses at a university hospital to perceive work satisfaction. Eight hundred and thirty-three nurses responded to the mailed Quality Work Competence questionnaire and the Huddinge University Hospital Model Questionnaire. Regression analyses identifies five factors linked to the head nurses leadership contributing to the nurses' feelings of work satisfaction: 'professional competence is made good use of', 'feeling of satisfaction with immediate superior regarding support for nursing research and development', 'opportunities for developing one's own competence for the current job', 'career opportunities in one's own profession' and 'yearly dialogue for performance appraisal with immediate superior'. The nurses also reported work-related exhaustion. Few saw opportunities for making a career as a nurse. In conclusion, the study identified specific amenable factors linked to the head nurses leadership that are of importance in creating attractive workplaces for nurses.