Caring has been identified as the essence and unifying domin of nursing(Leininger). Many nurses believe that the art of nursing is comprised of actions that are predominantly caring in nature. Although caring has been the traditional ideology of nurses, it is only now beginning to emerge as the central construct for the development of nursing research, theory and practice. The problem addressed by this study was to identify how hospitalized children and their nurses express the meaning of caring, how they think nurses experiences of being cared for. The purpose was to provide theoretical understanding of caring as perceived in Korea to contribute to the development of Korean nursing knowledge. The subjects were 76 hospitalized children admitted to pediatric units in five teaching hospitals and 66 nurses who were caring for these children. In this descriptive study, data were collected from Nov 11, 1991 to Jan 30, 1992 by interviews by van Kaam's method. Caring themes perceived by the children and their nurses were classified into eight categories,-helping, comfort, love, warmth(only by children), recovery from illness, health maintenance(only by nurses), presence, nurturance and responsibility. Ideal caring behaviors perceived by the children and their nurses were six categories, -to give help, provide comfort, give love, with, treat warmly and aid recovery. Subcategories of giving help were promptness and competence, detailed explanations and support and encouragement. Other subcategories of giving help reported only by nurses were individualizing care, recognizing needs and providing a familiar environment. Subcategories of maintaining comfort were making comfortable, alleviating pain ; one subcategory reported only by children was consolating. A subcategory of giving love was concern ; two subcategories reported only by nurses were compassion and respect. Subcategories of staying with were playing with and touching ; only nurses reported empathy. Subcategories of treating warmly were tenderness and kindness. In the experience of caring, there were 4 categories,-to give help, stay with, show concern and provide comfort. Both the hospitalized children and their nurses had experienced caring primarily from their mothers. Mothers' caring behaviors were direct, personal, basic, supportive nursing acts. On the other hand, nurses caring behaviors were task oriented skilled procedures and medically delegated acts. This study contributes understanding of the complexity of caring, more specifically the meaning and experience of caring and ideal caring behaviors. Research may be able to move into verification when instruments are developed to measure the complexity of caring beliefs, values and behaviors in Korean and other cultural settings.