PURPOSE: This study was done to understand the meanings and nature of experiences of the burnout of nurses working in oncology wards. METHODS: The hermeneutic phenomenology developed by van-Manen was used. The period for data collection was from November, 2006 to May, 2007. This study took place in 3 university hospitals in B & U cities. Nine nurses working in oncology wards participated. Data collection was done through individual in-depth interviews. RESULTS: The eight most common themes demonstrated by participants from this study were 'being fed up with endless demands', 'collapsing in front of deaths', 'gasping for breath due to overwhelming tasks', 'uncontrollable suffering of body', 'gradually loosing self-esteem', 'frustration from the work world', 'beleaguered relationships', and 'desire to escape'. CONCLUSION: The results of this study indicate that there is a need to develop a preventive burnout program for nurses working in oncology wards.