Aim. This paper is a report of a test of the psychometric properties of a 19-item version of the Clinical Learning Environment Inventory. Background. Although the clinical learning environment provides the 'real-life' context essential for preparing nursing students for their professional role, the quality of student learning is influenced by the quality of the clinical placement. Methods. Nursing students completed an abbreviated (19-item) form of the Clinical Learning Environment Inventory to rate their perception of the clinical learning environment. Descriptive statistics, principal component analysis, discriminant validity and Cronbach's alpha reliabilities were computed. Results. Between March and December 2009, 231 online surveys were submitted. The mean age of participants was 30·3years (sd: 10·4) and 87% were female. All 19 items loaded on two factors, 'Clinical Facilitator Support of Learning' and 'Satisfaction with Clinical Placement', with factor loadings above the 0·4 threshold. Cronbach's alpha coefficient was 0·93 for the total Clinical Learning Environment Inventory-19, with subscales ranging from 0·92 to 0·94. Multiple regression uncovered that participants who engaged in health-related paid work were independently and significantly more positive on the 'Clinical Facilitator Support of Learning' subscale, whereas those who worked >16hours a week, or allocated the afternoon shift were independently and significantly more negative on the 'Satisfaction with Clinical Placement' subscale. Conclusion. Providing an effective and productive clinical experience is vital in preparing nursing students to become competent clinicians. The Clinical Learning Environment Inventory-19 offers a useful measure to explore nursing students' satisfaction with two aspects of this clinical experience - clinical facilitator support of learning and the clinical learning environment. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.