This study dealt with nursing students' and patients' experiences of their relationship. Qualitative data were collected conducting semi-structured interviews with 30 nursing students and 30 patients on medical wards in Finland. The results, analysed using inductive content analysis, revealed student-patient relationships of three types: mechanistic, authoritative and facilitative relationships. Factors promoting or impeding the relationship were divided into student-related factors, patient-related factors, length of time together and atmosphere during activity and were found to influence the type and quality of the relationship. The findings also indicate that the relationship has many positive consequences for both students and patients. The results of the study have implications for nursing, pointing out the important role of both staff nurses and nurse educators in supporting students' learning about individualised patient-centred care.