The current study sought to identify the factors underlying physicians' decision to retire, describe the emotional impact of retirement on physicians, measure quality of life in retirement, and identify coping strategies used by retired physicians. A questionnaire was sent to all 689 retired members of the Harris County Medical Society, and 323 (47%) responded. Data were analyzed using SPSS. Physicians overwhelmingly indicated positive reasons for retirement, although one third said that loss of autonomy and control in medical practice were factors. Participants were satisfied with retirement and enjoyed low levels of stress and depression. Spousal and personal health had the largest negative impact on retirement. Being prepared emotionally significantly affected physicians' attitudes. Longitudinal studies and research on the impact of managed care on the retirement experience are needed. Younger physicians need to be prepared for the emotional impact of retirement.