The time available for preparing a medical record may be of importance for the resulting quality. We studied the records of 166 patients admitted to a medical department during a fortnight. 24 doctors registered the time spent on history taking, clinical examination and emergency treatment, paper work and other patient-associated tasks. The doctors received a mean of seven patients each, spending a mean of 53 (range 20-120) minutes in all. The mean time spent on clinical examination was 27 minutes, on paper work 18 minutes and on other tasks 11 minutes. Time of the day or age of the patient did not influence the time spent on the tasks. Only rarely (7%) did the doctor experience shortage of time.