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To develop a model of the optimal mentoring environment for medical residents. The authors propose that such an environment is a function of a relationship that rests upon a set of interactional foundations that allow a protégé to capitalize on the strengths of the mentor, and it facilitates behaviors that will enable the protégé to develop and internalize the requisite knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) as fully as possible.The authors searched the literature using Web of Science and Google Scholar in 2007–2008 to identify articles addressing the mentoring process and the context in which it occurs (mentoring environment), and the effect both have on KSA development. The authors distilled the attributes of a good mentor that were consistent across the 20 papers that met inclusion criteria and described good mentoring of residents or curricula for training mentors or residents.The authors identified six interactional foundations that underlie the optimal mentoring relationship: emotional safety, support, protégé-centeredness, informality, responsiveness, and respect. These foundations enable protégés to engage in four key developmental behaviors: exercising independence, reflecting, extrapolating, and synthesizing.This model identifies mentoring practices that empower protégés to engage in developmental behaviors that will help them become the best physicians possible. Educators may use this model to develop training tools to teach attendings how to create an optimal mentoring environment. Researchers can use the model to help guide their future investigations of mentoring in medicine.