OBJECTIVE To explore if the year of training in the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) increases the clinical aptitudes of trainees in this area. METHODS All the PMR trainees in two units of PMR of the Mexican Social Security Institute in Mexico City were evaluated (17 in their 1st year, 22 in their 2nd and 8 in their 3rd year of training). Their clinical aptitude was measured using a questionnaire of 296 items which explored 10 areas of knowledge. Non parametric statistics were used to evaluate the differences between scores by year of training. RESULTS There were no significant differences between years of training in the areas specifically pertinent to the PMR specialty. The only difference was a higher rate of iatrogenic commission in the 1st year residents as compared with those in their 3rd year suggesting a better use of diagnostic and therapeutic resources of the latter. There was a poor performance in nearly all residents as 45 of the 47 scored in the low or very low range of knowledge. CONCLUSIONS The clinical aptitude of the PMR residents was poor in general. Our findings should be taken as a starting point to seek strategies to improve the training in the PMR specialty.