The authors wished to assess medical students' attitudes towards communication skills learning, and to validate the use of the Communication Skills Attitude Scale (CSAS) in a different population. This cross-sectional study of Years 1-3 MBChB students, University of Aberdeen, in 2002-03 (overall response rate = 86.2%) identified significant differences in attitudes to communication skills teaching by year of study and gender. PAS (positive attitudes scores) for Year 1 were significantly higher than those for Years 2 and 3. NAS (negative attitudes scores) for Year 1 were significantly lower than the scores for Year 2 but not Year 3. The scores for Years 2 and 3 were not significantly different. Female students had a significantly higher mean PAS score and lower mean NAS score than males, and were more likely to disagree that their communication and clinical skills were competent. While cohort effects may be present, it seems that attitudes towards communication skills learning are positive initially, becoming less so until students experience interacting with patients. Differences between male and female students reflect those seen in previous studies. The findings presented support the use of the CSAS as an appropriate tool to measure attitudes in a wide population of medical students.