When internal medicine residents leave teaching programs, continuity of care for outpatients is affected. The authors had departing residents send their patients computer-generated letters identifying another physician to provide continuing care. The letters were randomly withheld from 20% of the patients (NL), and they were compared with patients who received letters (RL). A telephone survey was administered and visits and no-show rates were determined. The RL patients more often knew of the change in provider (84% vs 54%, p less than 0.01) and identified the resident as the source of the information (77% vs 43%, p less than 0.01) than NL patients. There were no significant differences between RL and NL patients in mean numbers of appointments (1.0 vs 0.8) or no-show rates (24% vs 21%) following housestaff turnover. Both groups wanted to be told by the physician about future changes and were willing to be informed by letter. A computer-generated letter appears to be an effective way of notifying patients about transfer of care during the annual housestaff turnover in teaching programs.