This study was performed to investigate the changes in students' perceptions of nursing during their education and to evaluate the role of an Introduction to Nursing course in this change. This quasi-experimental. study was conducted on 39 nursing students at their first educational season. Within the first hour of the Introduction to Nursing course (which was conducted by the researcher), the students were asked to define nursing according to their own ideas and they were requested to give written answers. Then, the objectives, contents, education methods and mutual expectations related to the course were discussed. During this course interactive learning strategies were used. At the end of the term, the students were provided with their first nursing definitions. They were asked to examine these definitions and write a new one in line with their criticisms, along with their opinions about the education methods used and the instructor of the course. The definitions written by the students before and after the course were analysed one by one. The expressions within these definitions were extracted, classified and then compared. The opinions of the students about the education methods used and the instructor of the course were also classified and evaluated by the researcher. Percentages were used in the evaluation of data. According to the results of this study the Introduction to Nursing course had a positive effect on students' understanding of nursing as a profession. In addition, they expressed positive opinions about the education methods used and the instructor. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.