This paper describes several examples of the use of journals in a Bachelor of Dental Surgery course. The examples cover: the use of journals in first year subjects and in later-year clinical subjects; the effect of changes in policy and practise as a result of experience with journals; and student views on their experiences with journals. The use of journals offers a means of achieving some of the more important goals of problem-based learning (PBL), particularly those requiring students to reflect upon and evaluate their experiences. When effectively integrated in a PBL course, journals have several functions: to formalize reflection; an outlet for personal feeling; an opportunity for feedback about a student's progress and about the course; to provide the student with a summary of the year's work; and a means whereby students and teachers gain insight into the learning process. However, our experience in Dentistry raises several contentious issues, especially with regard to confidentiality and assessment. We make several recommendations for the effective use of journals based on the need for frequent communication between students and staff, the development of an environment of trust, and the need for staff and student education in journal use.