Objective: To determine whether variables in physicians' backgrounds influenced their decision to forego resuscitating a patient they did not previously know. Methods: Questionnaire survey of a convenience sample of 204 physicians working in the departments of internal medicine, anaesthesiology and cardiology in 11 hospitals in Israel. Results: Twenty per cent of the participants had elected to forego resuscitating a patient they did not previously know without additional consultation. Physicians who had more frequently elected to forego resuscitation had practised medicine for more than 5 years (p=0.013), estimated the number of resuscitations they had performed as being higher (p=0.009), and perceived their experience in resuscitation as sufficient (p=0.001). The variable that predicted the outcome of always performing resuscitation in the logistic regression model was less than 5 years of experience in medicine (OR 0.227, 95% CI 0.065 to 0.793; p=0.02). Conclusion: Physicians' level of experience may affect the probability of a patient's receiving resuscitation, whereas the physicians' personal beliefs and values did not seem to affect this outcome.