Magnet hospitals are recognized institutions of nursing excellence that provide an environment for the promotion of nursing and high-quality patient care. The Magnet Recognition Program, developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Centre, acknowledges health-care institutions that not only attract and retain nursing staff but also recognize nursing excellence in the delivery of quality patient care. Our study aimed to adapt the existing Practice Environment Scale to the Australian context and to pilot its use in measuring the nursing practice environment at a metropolitan hospital in Sydney, Australia. Nursing staff from four wards at a 400 bed major metropolitan acute general hospital in Sydney, Australia completed a self-administered questionnaire about their practice environment. Data were compared with the published norms from magnet and non-magnet hospitals in the USA, and means of two subscales were not significantly different from magnet hospital means. Hospitals could benefit from undertaking a similar practice environment baseline measure prior to applying for accreditation, thus enabling targeting of pre-identified service gaps and areas for improvement.