Describes and analyses an initial attempt to introduce problem-based learning (PBL) into a Chinese cultural setting. Discusses some of the tensions between the philosophy of PBL and the culture in which the authors used this innovative approach to leadership education. Further describes the strategies which the authors employed to address these underlying tensions and the reactions of the students to their first encounter with PBL. Examines possible cultural influences on the behaviour patterns the authors observed while the students attempted to solve the problem presented in the problem-based learning materials. Whether these behaviours facilitate or hinder task accomplishment and group productivity remains an important area for further study. Copyright © 1996 MCB UP Limited.