Recruitment and retention issues in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy (CRP) have led to concerns for the future of this specialist area of physiotherapy. This study evaluated the career choices of student physiotherapists and elicited factors that influenced their perceptions of CRP. A postal questionnaire to two schools of physiotherapy in New Zealand and two in Australia was administered. Final year students were randomly selected and invited to complete the questionnaire. Details of respondents' clinical experience, future career intentions, and perceptions of CRP as a specialism were ascertained. A response rate of 61% (n=149) was obtained. Although the majority of respondents had undertaken cardiorespiratory placements, only 3% of respondents reported being "extremely interested" in specializing in CRP. The variety and timing of clinical placements and educational and clinical supervision were key factors that had the potential to both positively and negatively influence students' opinions of CRP. An understanding of the role of CRP beyond that of inpatient care appeared limited. To promote uptake of CRP as a career option, clinicians, educators, and managers should strive to provide positive clinical placements and educational opportunities. The extensive scope of clinical practice of cardiorespiratory physiotherapists could be a greater focus within physiotherapy curricula.