In a multicultural student population at a South African medical school, for over one-third of students (Years 1-5) undertaking a traditional curriculum, culture was an important consideration in their choice of a role model. This was particularly so for senior students, perhaps reflecting their relatively recent exposure to patients and their forthcoming internship. Some student comments might, however, be interpreted as reflecting a rigid perception of culture that could translate into a possible lack of respect for others cultures. It is therefore imperative that each institution provide appropriate early and continous mainstream diversity training, as well as identify role models to match the student profile. With the increasing diversity of students globally, this issue of culture should assume even greater importance in medical education that it is currently afforded.