Acute medical and nursing treatment in the home is increasingly seen as an alternative to hospitalization. Models such as hospital in the home (HITH) or acute home care are said to provide a safe, comfortable environment for patients that is conducive to healing. A review of the literature reveals the embryonic nature of the research and discussion related to this alternative care delivery model. In general, the benefits of hospital in the home programmes are presented in an uncritical manner. Medical practitioners have embraced the move to home care as a means of expanding the use of advanced technologies and improved drug regimes beyond the hospital walls. The nursing response has been mechanistic and recipe-like while advancing the HITH nursing role as an opportunity for specialty practice by virtue of the increased autonomy and independence required. This review demonstrates the influence of a professional mandate for specialization, and the ideological and scientific interests that have influenced the role of the nurse.