A survey of physicians in private practice (exclusive of pediatricians) was conducted in a medium sized suburban city in the New York metropolitan area, to determine whether physicians' attitudes toward the ill aged and nursing homes were predictors of the quality of medical care available to area nursing home patients. Questionnaires were circulated to 302 practitioners. Of the 28 percent who responded, 32 percent were psychiatrists, 15 percent primary care physicians and 8 percent orthopedists. Physicians felt competent to manage the ill aged, although 50 percent had had no significant degree of exposure to geriatric medicine in their medical education, and 70 percent of the primary care group had had none. Primary care and older physicians were more likely to treat patients in nursing homes. Almost 40 percent viewed the nursing home as a place to die. Although 85 percent studied that physicians should be involved in the nursing home displacement process, only 21 percent believed that they continued to be in charge of their patients after placement. The findings demonstrate generalized medical disinterest in the care of ill aged patients in institutions. The persons responsible for awarding government grants and those involved in planning medical school curricula should pay more attention to the needs of the chronically ill aged.