In the past 2 years there has been increased emphasis on health care delivery concerns in rural environments. Research monies also target the health care needs of vulnerable populations living in areas with a shortage of health professionals; many of these populations are located in rural areas. There is, however, a paucity of information about populations and mental health nursing in rural environment. Part I of this two-part article summarizes pertinent definitions and characteristics of rural environments. The health care delivery system in rural settings is considered within a framework of availability, accessibility, and acceptability of services. Traditional belief systems are highlighted, and the impact of these on health care-seeking behaviors of rural people are discussed.