BACKGROUND: The Research Fellowship Scheme of the Royal College of Surgeons of England commenced in 1993 with the aim of exposing selected surgical trainees to research techniques and methodology, with the hope of having an impact on surgical research and increasing the cadre of young surgeons who might decide to pursue an academic career in surgery. Over 11 million pounds sterling (approximately US 20 million dollars) has been invested in 264 fellowships. The College wished to evaluate the impact of the Scheme on the careers of research fellows, surgical research, and patient care. As the 10th anniversary of the Scheme approached. STUDY DESIGN: Two-hundred and sixty research fellows whose current addresses were available were sent a questionnaire. Two-hundred and thirty-eight (91.5%) responded. RESULTS: Three-quarters of the research fellows conducted laboratory-based research, with most of the remainder conducting patient-based clinical research. One-third of the fellows who have reached consultant status have an academic component to their post. The total number of publications based on fellowship projects was 531, with a median impact factor of 3.5. Almost all fellows had been awarded a higher degree or were working toward this. Half of the fellows received subsequent funding for research, mostly awarded by national or international funding bodies. CONCLUSIONS: The Research Fellowship Scheme of the Royal College of Surgeons of England has successfully supported many trainee surgeons in the initial phase of their research career. It has helped surgical research by increasing the pool of surgeons willing to embark on an academic career. Indirectly, patient care has benefited by promoting an evidence-based culture among young surgeons. Such schemes are relevant to surgical training programs elsewhere if more young surgeons are to be attracted into academic surgery.