Nursing theorist, Hildegard Peplau (1952) has identified the concept of preconceptions as critical in the development of the therapeutic nurse-client relationship. Although stereotypes exist for both nurses and chronic psychiatric clients, very little research has been reported on the preconceptions nurses and psychiatric clients have of each other. This investigation utilized non-probability, purposive sampling of 20 newly formed nurse-client dyads within programmes serving a chronically mentally ill population in Canada. Subjects were asked to give descriptions of each other. Semantic differentials based on this feedback were then developed and administered to 124 nurse-client dyads. Clients' statements generally evaluated their nurses positively. The generally positive views expressed by nurses and clients did not reflect public stereotypes for either group. The preconceptions the clients had of their nurses, and nurses had of their clients were related to both the quality of the emerging relationship (task, bond and goals) and the duration of the orientation phase. The preconceptions were virtually unchanged over the initial 6 months of the relationship.