BACKGROUND: Modern physicians' role as a model is very important in advocating health promoting behaviors for their patients. In this study, we compared health promoting behaviors and corresponding health perceptions between law students and medical students with evaluation of the association between health promoting behaviors and corresponding health perceptions. METHODS: The data of this survey, conducted among law students and medical students attending a university in a metropolitan city in June, 2004, were collected by self-administered questionnaire based on FANTASTIC lifestyle checklist adjusted to reflect Korean circumstances. RESULTS: Qestionnaires from 74 law students and 136 medical students were analysed. The medical students showed better health behaviors in terms of fastening seatbelt, leisure time, sleep, and salt intake reduction. The medical students showed better health perceptions in terms of exercise, activity, body weight, animal fat and salt intake reduction, smoking cessation. The law students showed better perceptions in being impatient. Significant association between health behavior and health perception was observed in relationship with family and friends, exercise, activity, breakfast, reduced intake animal fat, smoking cessation, reduced drug and drinking habits, sleep, fastening seatbelt, regular physical exam, positive thought, and school satisfaction in the law students. In the medical students, significant association was observed in relationship with family and friends, exercise, breakfast, reduced drinking, sleep, fastening seatbelt, coping skills for stress, regular physical exam, and positive thought. CONCLUSION: Even though the medical students were more concerned about and engaged in some health promoting behaviors, other factors affecting medical students' health promoting behaviors than health perception should be addressed further.