CONTEXT: The Australian Medical Council requires all accredited Australian medical schools to have specific admission and recruitment policies for Indigenous Australian students. However, there is no clear evidence about how these students can be retained through to graduation. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explore the training experiences of Indigenous undergraduate medical students and their perceptions of the factors influencing their progression through training. METHODS: We used a qualitative methodology involving focus groups. All participants had successfully completed at least 1 year of the Bachelor of Medicine programme at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. RESULTS: Sixteen of 18 eligible students participated in the study. The factors that influence an Indigenous student’s progress through medical training are multi-faceted and inter-related and are associated with student support, course content and styles of learning, personal qualities (such as confidence and coping skills), discrimination and distinctive cultural issues pertinent to Indigenous students.