To assess medical students' attitudes toward social and sexual contact with patients by physicians from three medical specialties (internal medicine, obstetrics-gynecology, and psychiatry), 326 students were surveyed at one medical school and 239 students responded (response rate = 73.3%). Most students perceived that arranging to date and/or dating and genital sexual contact were not appropriate either during a patient visit or concurrent with ongoing treatment. However, as many as 20% of the male students and 3.5% of the female students said that genital sexual contact with patients concurrent with treatment was (sometimes or usually) appropriate, depending on the specialty. Significant gender differences were found in attitudes about physician-patient sexual contact. Genital sexual contact was also significantly less likely to be perceived as appropriate for psychiatrists, as might be expected, than for obstetrician-gynecologists and internal medicine specialists. These results are discussed in relation to current codes of ethics.