This Guide provides an overview of educational theory relevant to learning from experience. It considers experience gained in clinical workplaces from early medical student days through qualification to continuing professional development. Three key assumptions underpin the Guide: learning is 'situated'; it can be viewed either as an individual or a collective process; and the learning relevant to this Guide is triggered by authentic practice-based experiences. We first provide an overview of the guiding principles of experiential learning and significant historical contributions to its development as a theoretical perspective. We then discuss socio-cultural perspectives on experiential learning, highlighting their key tenets and drawing together common threads between theories. The second part of the Guide provides examples of learning from experience in practice to show how theoretical stances apply to clinical workplaces. Early experience, student clerkships and residency training are discussed in turn. We end with a summary of the current state of understanding.