5427 applicants to British medical schools indicated the importance of each of 22 specific reasons for applying to the five choices they had put on their medical school application. The 24852 applications were aggregated by medical school, and the profile of reasons analysed for each school. Factor analysis showed four clear dimensions, labelled as 'Reputation', 'Personal contact', 'Location' and 'Prospectus'; scores and rank order for each school on each factor are reported. Scrutiny of the pattern of ratings of individual schools suggested that although many of the applicants' perceptions were probably valid, there were some perceptions which appeared inconsistent with other evidence. Cluster analysis showed that in general the London schools clustered together as did the provincial schools of England and Wales, and the Scottish schools; Oxbridge and Belfast were perceived as very separate from the other schools.