Aims To assess levels of occupational stress, job satisfaction and job performance among hospital nurses in Kampala, Uganda; and how they are influenced by work and personal characteristics. Background Occupational stress is reported to affect job satisfaction and job performance among nurses, thus compromising nursing care and placing patients' lives at risk. Although these factors have been studied extensively in the US and Europe, there was a need to explore them from the Ugandan perspective. Methods A correlational study was conducted with 333 nurses from four hospitals in Kampala, Uganda. A questionnaire measuring occupational stress, job satisfaction and job performance was used. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and anova. Results There were significant differences in levels of occupational stress, job satisfaction and job performance between public and private not-for-profit hospitals, nursing experience and number of children. Conclusions Organizational differences between public and private not-for-profit hospitals influence the study variables. Implications for Nursing Management On-the-job training for nurse managers in human resource management to increase understanding and advocacy for organizational support policies was recommended. Research to identify organizational, family or social factors which contribute to reduction of perceived occupational stress and increase job satisfaction and job performance was recommended. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.