To describe more explicitly the components of competence required of the internist, The American Board of Internal Medicine has analyzed the medical encounter and defined the major variables involved: the abilities required of the internist, the tasks that must be performed to solve a medical problem, the medical illness, and the patient. The abilities of the internist have been categorized into attitudes and habits, interpersonal skills, motor and technical skills, and intellectual abilities. The latter have been further subdivided into the abilities to acquire and use knowledge, to organize, to synthesize information, and to apply clinical judgment. For each of these abilities statements of clinical competence that relate to the tasks required have been developed. The Board is publishing this paper, an excerpt of a longer document, with the hope that it will be useful to residents, faculty, and practicing internists.