Aim: To determine factors contributing to stress experienced by preregistration nursing students in Pakistan, using the Stressors in Nursing Students scale. The aim was to explore the psychometric properties of this instrument and to investigate the effect of a range of demographic variables on the perception of stressors in nursing students. Background: Nursing is a stressful profession, and nursing students may experience more stress due to competing demands and challenges of nursing education, assessment, placements and worries about employment prospects. Methods: In this cross-sectional survey, data from 726 nursing students from 11 schools of nursing in Karachi, Pakistan, were collected using a questionnaire. Data were analysed using descriptive as well inferential statistics. An exploratory factor analysis was also conducted. Results: There was no apparent factor structure to the Stressors in Nursing Students scale, unlike in previous studies. The total score on the Stressors in Nursing Students scale was related to gender with males scoring higher. The score generally increased over 4 years of the programme, and students in private schools of nursing scored higher than those in public schools of nursing. Conclusion: Nursing students in Pakistan do not appear to differentiate between different stressors, and this may be due to cultural differences in the students and to the structure of the programme and the articulation between the academic and clinical aspects. Likewise, cultural reasons may account for differences between stress experienced by male and female students. Implications for nursing and policy: The fact that scores on the Stressors in Nursing Students scale increased over 4 years of the programme and males scored higher than females should alert nursing schools and policymakers related to nursing education and workforce to pay attention to prevent attrition from nursing programmes.