The Chinese health care system has experienced profound changes in recent decades, including the retrenchment of government financial support. These changes and their subsequent adverse impacts have prompted the Chinese media and some academics to suggest that patients have a relatively low level of trust in physicians in China today. As the first step in exploring the state of patient trust in physicians in public hospitals in urban China, and its determinants, we conducted a survey of 434 patients from 26 public hospitals in urban Beijing between December 2009 and January 2010. Conducted by the Horizon Research Group, our survey asked the patient respondents how they viewed the physicians they were currently seeing, focusing on the following dimensions of trust: physician agency, technical competence, interpersonal competence, and information provided by physicians. Our survey results show a relatively high level of patients' trust in their physicians. Moreover, our in-patient respondents reported a higher level of trust than out-patient respondents with regard to physician agency, interpersonal competence and information provision. Regression analyses also find that patients' self-reported health status, the level of public hospitals from which they received treatment, the duration of their illness, and the frequency of exposure to negative media reports of physicians and hospitals are important determinants of patients' trust in physicians.