The aim of this study was to examine levels of job satisfaction and psychological morbidity in preregistration house physicians working partial shift rotas, full shift rotas, or traditional on-call rotas. The study was carried out at two teaching hospitals in one city, and consisted of a prospective within-subject crossover study at hospital A and a parallel simple descriptive study at hospital B. Sixty preregistration house physicians were included in the study. At hospital A the house officers worked shifts for part of their post and traditional on-call rotas for the remainder. At hospital B the house officers worked a modified on-call rota throughout. The outcome measures used were the 30 item General Health Questionnaire and a self-report job satisfaction scale. Measures were administered at hospital A towards the end of each distinct rota period (on-call or shift) and simultaneously administered at hospital B. Results showed that full shifts were associated with greater psychological morbidity and lower job satisfaction than traditional on-call rotas. Partial shifts were rated more favourably but were nonetheless unpopular. There was a marked difference between hospitals. It would seem that some 'new deal' rotas may increase psychological morbidity and reduce job satisfaction.