This study aimed to explore pre-service teachers' perceptions and expectations of principals, how these perceptions may influence attitude and behaviour when they start in school and how pre-service teachers' perceptions of the principalship may have been formed. In general, pre-service teachers do not expect to receive assistance from the principal during their first months of teaching. Past experience of principals has resulted in clear expectations of principal support, particularly in respect to beliefs about the influence of hierarchy, school authority and principal's workload. Others, however, expect the principal to be receptive to and supportive of innovations. Some expect support from their colleagues whilst others believe they must rely on themselves. Furthermore, the sources of beliefs about the principalship are predominantly formed during pre-service teachers' experiences in school life and teaching practice. Many of their images of the principalship tend to be negative. Copyright © 2000 Australian Teacher Education Association.