BACKGROUND: In Korea, the separation of prescribing and dispensing medicine was finally accepted as a medical policy in July, 2000, after a long period of discussion and study which was started in 1963. Now a year after the policy started, we investigated the knowledge, attitude, and practice of separation of prescribing and dispensing medicine. METHODS: Information, concerning whether the policy was effectively carried out and well understood, were gathered from 383 patients, who visited an university hospital from August 20 to September 1, 2001. RESULTS: The results revealed that 73.1% of the subjects knew the policy precisely. However, only 1.6% of them could answer all four questions on the purpose of the policy. The old-aged, the low educated, the low socioeconomic groups and the residents in agricultural area revealed poor understanding of the policy (P<0.05). Among the total, 74.9% showed negative response toward the policy. Time and cost increment were 75.7% and 75.2%, respectively. Among them 61.1% revealed negative attitude towards continuance the policy and 93.2% revealed dissatisfaction of the policy. CONCLUSION: The knowledge of the policy was relatively high. However, negative attitudes prevailed on the continuance of the policy. Therefore, more solutions and better strategies for the problems of prescribing and dispensing medicine would be needed.