The use of journal clubs and, more recently, case-based discussions in order to stimulate debate among orthopaedic surgeons lies at the heart of orthopaedic training and education. A virtual learning environment can be used as a platform to host virtual journal clubs and case-based discussions. This has many advantages in the current climate of constrained time and diminishing trainee and consultant participation in such activities. The virtual environment model opens up participation and improves access to journal clubs and case-based discussions, provides reusable educational content, establishes an electronic record of participation for individuals, makes use of multimedia material (including clinical imaging and photographs) for discussion, and finally, allows participants to link case-based discussions with relevant papers in the journal club. The Leicester experience highlights the many advantages and some of the potential difficulties in setting up such a virtual system and provides useful guidance for those considering such a system in their own training programme. As a result of the virtual learning environment, trainee participation has increased and there is a trend for increased consultant input in the virtual journal club and case-based discussions. It is likely that the use of virtual environments will expand to encompass newer technological approaches to personal learning and professional development.