In many Anglo-Saxon and North European countries nursing research agendas have been developed to address priorities in nursing research in accordance with a nationally defined health policy. In Switzerland, due to lack of a nationwide governmental health policy, co-ordination of nursing research so far was scarce. The "Swiss Research Agenda for Nursing (SRAN)" project developed an agenda for clinical nursing research between 2005 and 2007. Based on literature reviews, expert panels and a national survey a project team formulated an agenda which passed a consensus conference. The agenda recommends aspects that should lead research and defines seven research priorities for nursing in Switzerland for the time between 2007 and 2017. Nursing research should prioritize to investigate 1) the effectiveness of nursing interventions; 2) the influences of service adaptations in a changing health care system; 3) the phenomena in patients requiring nursing care; 4) the influence of the work environment on the quality of nursing care; 5) the functioning of family and social systems; 6) varieties of life circumstances and their integration; and 7) the implementation of ethical principles in nursing. Written in German and French, the Swiss Research Agenda for Nursing for the first time formulates priorities for nursing research in Switzerland and can be used for strategic discussions. As a next step, the development of an action plan to enhance nursing research will take place in Switzerland.