This paper concerns care of refugees from Southeast Asia who speak little English and are relatively unfamiliar with the formal health care system in the United States. It aims to demystify the behaviors of refugee patients and to support health practitioners who are attempting to care for them. Western medicine is discussed in terms of the expectations that refugees tend to hold of it, and of the conflicts with Southeast Asian beliefs and practices which it presents. Despite language differences, health care agents can increase the effectiveness of their communication with persons from Southeast Asia, primarily by allowing for their viewpoints. Topics discussed are: the first encounter with a refugee patient; use of interpreters; obtaining informed consent; "the passive obedient" patient; the "non-compliant" patient; body image; sources of social support for healing; use of medications; traditional self-care practices; and death and depression.