Medical educational opportunities and resources are considerably limited in the developing world. The expansion of computing and Internet access means that there exists a potential to provide education to students through distance learning programmes. This study investigated the feasibility of providing distance learning course in surgery in Malawi. The study investigated the user requirements, technical requirements and Internet connections in two teaching hospitals in Malawi. In addition the appropriateness of current course material from the Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualification to Malawi trainees was assessed. The study found a high degree of interest from Malawian trainees in distance learning. The provision of basic science modules such as anatomy and physiology and the ability to access journals were considered highly desirable. The current ESSQ course would require extensive re-modelling to make it suitable to an African trainee's requirements. Internet speeds remain slow and access is currently expensive. There is considerable interest in distance learning programmes in Malawi but access to them is limited partly because of slow and expensive Internet access. Understanding the needs of trainees in countries such as Malawi will allow better direction of educational aid and resources to support surgical training.