To study encounter-specific physician satisfaction we collected exit questionnaires from patients and physicians following 550 primary care office visits. The physicians' questionnaire included 20 items pertaining to satisfaction with the visit, one of which was an assessment of global satisfaction. Using a boot-strap technique, we factor analyzed the satisfaction questions in 10 repeated samples. Four distinct dimensions of physician satisfaction emerged: satisfaction with the patient-physician relationship, with the data collection process, with the appropriateness of the use of time, and with the absence of excessive demands on the part of the patient. Each scale was found to be reliable; global satisfaction was most closely related to the relationship factor. Satisfaction with use of time and the adequacy of data collection tended to be stable for individual physicians across a range of patients whereas global satisfaction and satisfaction with the relationship and the demanding nature of the patient and were more variable, hence most unique to each encounter. This study of physician satisfaction represents an effort to incorporate knowledge about physicians' subjective experiences into a systematic understanding of the dynamics of the medical interview.