AIMS: This paper provides a theoretical understanding of narrative research and its use in research. It aims to expose the ways narrative research, when taken beyond the researcher's lone analysis of text, can contribute to the development of clinical knowledge. BACKGROUND: Methodological approaches involving the construction of narratives are increasingly apparent in the nursing and allied health literature. Narratives, constructed from stories of nursing practice, become texts available for analysis. This is undertaken predominantly by a researcher engaged in a lone activity with little involvement of those contributing the stories. METHODS: This paper is drawn from a critical praxis study of nurse-patient friendship utilizing participatory research processes. The nurses involved in the study were co-researchers in an indepth study of their relationships with patients. FINDINGS: The paper traces the movement from naïve story, through individual narratives during interviews with each nursing and demonstrates the changes in understanding about the narrative accounts that occurred during the participatory group process. CONCLUSION: The nurses involved in this study were able, through the use of narrative stories reexamined in a group context, to develop new insights and understandings about their practice. Knowledge generated in these ways remains grounded in the real life world of clinical nursing and gives voice to the complexity of those aspects of nursing practice that are taken for granted.