To ensure effective utilization of research in nursing more evidence is needed which illuminates the way nurses think about research, the value which they put on it, and how they envisage that it may help or hinder them in their everyday work. This English study aimed to meet these objectives by describing the research culture of practising nurses, health visitors and midwives, and their managers. It rests on two assumptions. Firstly that the reasons why practitioners do, or do not, base their practice on research are complex, and secondly, that interventions to increase research utilization must be grounded in an appreciation of this complex 'whole'. Thus the study took a qualitative approach to exploring: what participants thought and felt about research; the current status of research based practice; and the opportunities and constraints to increasing research based practice. The results confirm the hypothesis that many factors, both individual and organizational affect research utilization. Furthermore, practitioners and managers hold differing perceptions regarding the nature of research, its role, and the opportunities and constraints which effect its dissemination and utilization. The implications of the results for education, policy and practice are discussed.