The purpose of this study was to provide a beginning exploration of the way in which registered general nurses perceived the concept of patient advocacy. A qualitative approach was taken using the techniques of the grounded theory method. A volunteer sample of eight registered nurses working in an adult acute care ward of a major metropolitan hospital were interviewed using an semi-structured format. Areas explored during the interviews included personal definitions of patient advocacy, elements of the advocate role, and the rationale for the nurse acting as patient advocate. Data analysis commenced during the data collection phase, where initial interviews were transcribed, coded and beginning categories were identified. The findings indicate that for the participants, advocacy is based on respect for the person, and acknowledgement of human rights. The quality of the relationship between the nurse and the patient appears to be the basis for the advocate role. Three initial categories emerged that describe the major elements of the participant's conceptualization of patient advocacy. These are, informing, supporting and representing.