OBJECTIVE: To survey medical practitioners' experience with and attitudes toward litigation alleging medical malpractice. DESIGN: A survey using a questionnaire. SETTING: The Sudbury and Manitoulin Health District of Northern Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: Medical practitioners in the area. RESULTS: Physicians are sometimes negligent; malpractice is not simply created by entrepreneurial lawyers and patients with unrealistic expectations. At present malpractice is restrained by both the threat of civil litigation and the disciplinary committee of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. CONCLUSION: We must address the fear of malpractice suits if the North is to attract and retain the physicians it needs to provide modern standards of medical care.