Peer mentoring has been used for many years by the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine to integrate new students into the academic and social culture of the institution. In 2001, an unusual situation arose. A problem‐based learning (PBL) curriculum was introduced and the first cohort in this programme was mentored by senior traditional curriculum students. The present study, by canvassing the 2002 PBL mentors, set out to determine whether the mismatch in curricula impacted on students' mentoring experiences. There was overwhelming agreement that curriculum did matter—it is only when mentors are able to share the same experiences as mentees, can they fully understand student problems. Notwithstanding this and other difficulties (e.g. timetable clashes), some 2001 mentees did form bonds with their traditional curriculum mentors. Some even identified them as role models. The 2002 PBL mentors also indicated that they had undergone considerable personal development as a result of their experiences.