This article explores the experiences of older patients with cancer in phase 1 clinical trials. Conducting a case series of face-to-face, in-depth, open-ended interviews and using qualitative methods of analysis, we find that the psychosocial process of social comparison is relevant for understanding older adults' phase 1 clinical trial participation. Social comparison influences decisions to enroll in a phase 1 clinical trial, shapes perceptions of supportive care needs, and encourages the utilization of hope. Additional research should develop strategies for addressing supportive care needs among this patient cohort whose use of social comparison can inhibit articulation of pain, suffering, and symptom burden as well as use of informal support systems. © The Author(s) 2010.