In the Skillslab at Maastricht Medical School students are prepared for their first encounters with patients. Students can focus on individual skills, separately mastering each skill in a controlled systematic manner. With this foundation students are better equipped to face the complex intellectual and emotional demands of real patients. A large proportion of training concerns communication skills. Features of Skillslab communication skills training programme are: (1) its continuity (once every 2 weeks, from year 1 to year 6); (2) a gradual increase of complexity in skills (basic interview skills, phases of interviews, entire interviews, problem patients); (3) a gradual increase of complexity in practice situations (apparatus, role-playing, simulated patients, real patients). Evaluation shows students' and teachers' satisfaction with the programme. Comparison with conditions required for interpersonal skills training shows that these are fully met. However, there are drawbacks, which are described.