A student portfolio was introduced for pre-registration nursing students at the University of Glamorgan in October 1997. The impetus for doing so was the recognised need to address: the 'theory-practice' divide; the need to provide nurse students with skills that will enable them to maintain the Professional Profile for registration purposes (UKCC, 1994). This article reports a research study evaluating the student portfolio. The main objectives of the evaluation were to investigate whether the portfolio addressed the perceived needs and to identify if students were experiencing potential benefits by using the portfolio. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with students and staff about their usage and perceptions of the portfolio. These findings were used to inform the design of the questionnaire to investigate students' experiences of using the portfolio, and their views about its usefulness. The questionnaires (n=219) confirmed the impression that students are not making frequent use of the portfolio. Students mainly discussed sections relating to academic aspects of the course. The summative assessment (essays) section was discussed by the greatest proportion of students (51% n=108). More students (74%) felt that too little time was spent on the portfolio than any other aspect of the course. Although many students and staff appreciate the potential value of using the portfolio, it is not a requirement of the course and so tends not to be treated as a high priority. Many of the recommendations from this study focussed on ways of integrating the portfolio into the course in order to increase its use. The results of this study have informed the development of an All Wales Student Portfolio introduced in April 2002 (Welsh Assembly Government, 2002).