Abstract A study has been undertaken to assess the level of recall of preparatory information supplied by interview in a preoperative setting. A consecutive series of women undergoing minor gynaecological surgery( N = 36) received a preparatory interview on the day prior to surgery, of the form found to improve postoperative patient response. A second interview was conducted after an interval of either 30 min or 3 hr in order to establish the amount of information available for recall. Level of recall compared favourably with those reported in general practice settings, with significantly more information recalled on immediate assessment. A sex difference also emerged, with male interviewers achieving significantly higher levels of patient recall. Patients displayed uniformly positive attitudes towards receiving this kind of interview. The implications of these results are discussed in terms of the explanations put forward to account for the benefits of psychologically preparing patients for surgery.