Newly qualified doctors are expected to be able to conduct a cardiac auscultation unassisted, but studies show conflicting results regarding cardiac auscultation skills.A two-part test instrument was designed containing innovative recordings of heart sounds from patients with common cardiac murmurs as well as healthy controls. A total number of 109 participants were tested, representing four levels of clinical experience. The content validity of the test instrument was studied by a postal questionnaire to 114 clinical teachers at the University Hospital of Aarhus, Denmark.A significant correlation was found between level of experience and the ability to diagnose the conditions from which the murmurs originated (r = 0.45, P <0.0001). No correlation was found between level of experience and the ability to identify persons with cardiac murmurs from healthy controls. All groups showed a tendency to interpret healthy heart sounds as cardiac murmurs.Diagnostic ability was found to correlate positively with clinical experience, whereas the ability to distinguish cardiac murmurs from normal heart sounds seems independent of clinical experience.