Patients seeking help for symptoms frequently worry about the underlying causes of their symptoms; have specific expectations for care; and request (or demand) time, information, and services. Understanding patients' concerns, expectations, and requests is important for clinicians, health care policymakers, and researchers. One obstacle to progress in this area has been disagreement over the most appropriate methods for identifying, monitoring, and classifying these phenomena. This article reviews the conceptual relationships linking patients' expectations, requests, and satisfaction with care; surveys contemporary approaches to the measurement of expectations and requests; and highlights recent empirical findings. The literature reviewed supports the conclusion that patients' expectations are wide ranging, can be measured, and have potentially important clinical consequences. For clinicians and policymakers alike, learning to elicit, evaluate, and understand patients' expectations will be a major task for the early part of the new century.