We conducted a prospective study of discharged emergency department (ED) patients to determine the effect of wearing a necktie by emergency physicians (EPs) had on patients' impression of their medical care. All male EPs were assigned randomly by dates to wear a necktie or no necktie, and the attire worn was otherwise similar in all respects. The study was conducted at a community teaching hospital with an Emergency Medicine residency and an annual census of 40,000. A total of 316 patients were surveyed. There were no statistically significant differences between patient groups in any of the five areas surveyed, including patient perception of physicians' appearance. Nearly 30% of patients incorrectly identified their doctor as wearing a necktie when no necktie was worn, and the perception of tie wearing was correlated with a positive impression of physician appearance. Wearing or not wearing a necktie did not significantly affect patients' impression of their physician or the care they received. However, patients seemingly preferred the appearance of physicians who were perceived to wear neckties.