The self-reported health status and life satisfaction of 286 first-year Duke University medical students in four consecutive classes were measured at the beginning and end of the school year and compared statistically with relevant sociodemographic and behavioral factors. Health status, quantitated in terms of Duke Health Profile scores, was generally lower for women than for men. Although there was a definite trend of worsening along all parameters of health and satisfaction during the year for both women and men, the most marked change was the increase in depressive symptoms. The students who were very satisfied with life had fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety; higher self-esteem, better physical, mental, and social health; stronger social ties; more physical activity; more sleep; and fewer stressful life events. Strong social ties was the factor most positively related to better health and life satisfaction.