Interest in the concerns of cancer patients' carers has been growing steadily over the last decade reflected in key cancer service policy documents [DOH, 1995. A Policy Framework for Commissioning Cancer Services (Calman-Hine Report). London, HMSO; DOH, 2002. The NHS Cancer Plan]. Despite this acknowledgement, it can be argued that less is known about carers' experience in the cancer treatment context. Carers can be defined as someone who shares the experience of cancer with the patient. The aim of this study was to explore the lived experience of caregivers in a chemotherapy day hospital and how this compared with their experience of inpatient care. Using a phenomenological approach, face-to-face interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of ten caregivers. Data were analysed using Polkinghorne's [1995. Narrative Knowing Et the Human Sciences. University of New York Press, Albany] two stages of narrative analysis. The findings indicated that the caregivers experienced similar transitions to the patients with regards to health-illness transition and organisational transitions. The caregivers adopted various rotes in the day hospital such as Companion `being with' their relative, Protector `keeping an eye'; Practical Caregiver and assuming an Advocate Rote. The findings of this study are important for cancer nursing practice as health professionals need to acknowledge the rote of carers in the chemotherapy day hospital setting and facilitate their involvement in care. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.