The concept of hospice and palliative care emerged a quarter of a century ago out of recognition of the unmet needs of dying persons and the social issues of the 1960s and 1970s. The issues of the day included the sexual revolution; a questioning of social values; an increased awareness of death resulting from the murder of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King and daily television exposure to deaths in the Vietnam War, feminism, consumerism, reclaiming a more humanized role in the birth process, and hence in the process of death. The history of the hospice movement and the stress experienced by staff is traced from the early developmental days through to the present. Initially there was sometimes a struggle to integrate the concepts of relief of physical symptoms with meeting the psychosocial and emotional needs of patients and families, caregivers were expected to sacrifice much of their personal life for work, emotional intensity was high and supports were developed to ease some of the stress experienced by caregivers. From the early days team stress and burnout have been issues of concern. In the 1980s issues involved establishing funding sources, dealing with the new crisis of AIDS, and dealing with the gap between the ideal and the real. In the 1990s the economic climate has escalated some of the tensions that have always existed as hospice attempts to position itself within mainstream care with diminishing fiscal resources. These are issues that confront us as we move into the next century.