An understanding of means to improve patient adherence to the therapeutic regimen is a subject of increasing concern in medical care. This study examined the effects of physician interpersonal skills and teaching on patient satisfaction, recall, and adherence to the regimen. We studied the ambulatory visits of 63 patients to five medical residents at a teaching hospital in Baltimore. It was found that quality of interpersonal skills influenced patient outcomes more than quantity of teaching and instruction. Secondary analyses found that all the effects of physician communication skills on patient adherence are mediated by patient satisfaction and recall. These findings indicate that the physician might pay particular attention to these two variables in trying to improve patient adherence, and that enhancing patient satisfaction may be pivotal to the care of patients with chronic illness.