Community nurses play a key part in palliative care for patients and their families, yet there is relatively little research examining how their role is understood by nurses themselves. This paper presents findings from a qualitative study exploring how district nursing teams and community matrons (CMs) understood their own and each other's roles in palliative care. Twenty-four district nurses (DNs), 15 CMs and seven other key stakeholders were interviewed. DNs saw themselves as having a pivotal role, often coordinating other services as well as providing hands-on care. CMs agreed with the importance of the DN role, but had doubts about whether DNs had the capacity or skills to provide genuine case management. Both sets of nurses varied in their views of the CM role in palliative care, from seeing it as negligible to extensive and valuable. Organizational change contributed to the defensiveness of many DNs about their role, and to CMs' experiences of suspicion towards theirs.