Objective:To assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of internal medicine residents concerning dietary counseling for hypercholesterolemic patients. Design:Cross-sectional, self-administered questionnaire survey. Setting:Survey conducted August 1989 in seven internal medicine residency programs in four southeastern and middle Atlantic states. Participants:All 130 internal medicine residents who were actively participating in outpatient continuity clinic. Interventions:None. Measurements and main results:Only 32% of the residents felt prepared to provide effective dietary counseling, and only 25% felt successful in helping patients change their diets. Residents had good scientific knowledge, but the degree of practical knowledge about dietary facts varied. Residents reported giving dietary counseling to 58% of their hypercholesterolemic patients and educational materials to only 35%. Residents who felt more self-confident and prepared to counsel reported more frequent use of effective behavior modification techniques in counseling. Forty-three percent of residents had received no training in dietary counseling skills during medical school or residency. Conclusion:Internal medicine residents know much more about the rationale for treatment for hypercholesterolemia than about the practical aspects of dietary therapy, and they feel ineffective and ill-prepared to provide dietary counseling to patients. © 1992 Society of General Internal Medicine.