AIM: To examine the preconditions needed by district nurses to build a trusting relationship during health counselling of patients with hypertension. BACKGROUND: Trust has been found to be an important aspect of the patient-nurse relationship. Little research has focused on how trust is formed in patient-nurse relationships or the conditions the development process requires when working with health counselling; in particular not in relation to hypertension. DESIGN: Qualitative study. METHOD: Qualitative data were collected through open-ended interviews with all (10) district nurses from three primary health care districts of western Sweden. All interviewees work with the health counselling of patients with hypertension. A latent content analysis was performed with thematic coding of the content of the interviews. RESULTS: The first theme that emerged from the analysis, the nurses' competence, describes the nurses' consciousness of their method of expression, both oral and non-verbal, as well as their pedagogical competence and their ability to be reliable in their profession. The second theme, the patient meeting, describes the continuity in the patient meeting and creating respectful communication. CONCLUSION: The results show an awareness of preconditions influencing building a trusting relationship. When creating a trusting relationship the communication and pedagogical competences of district nurses have considerable importance. Despite this awareness they state that it is easy to fall into a routinised way of working. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The implications of this study might be used as support and guidance for district nurses when developing their competence in health counselling in relations to patients with hypertension. This knowledge is also important when planning for nurse-led clinics for this patient group.