We examined the influence of various background characteristics as well as other variables such as personal health practices, specialty choice, and political orientation, on the attitudes of medical graduates toward the physician's role in prevention. The study was part of a 1979 survey conducted in three U.S. medical schools. The results revealed that graduates who believed more strongly in the physician's role in prevention tended to be in primary care training, had a more liberal political orientation, and came more often from physician families. These graduates also believed more strongly that physicians ought to be role models for their patients in health habits. However, they did not manifest better personal health practices than physicians less oriented toward prevention. There was also a medical school effect, although it could not be determined whether this represented the influence of the curriculum or of the selection process into medical school.